Thursday, April 24, 2014

Transport Canada's New Train Safety Rules for Oil

On Wednesday April 23, Canada's Transport Minister announced new rail safety regulations. These new rules follow recommendations by Canada's Transportation Safety Board. The government has instituted a directive to eliminate or retrofit the DOT-111 tanker cars. The DOT-111 which makes up about 70 per cent of all tankers on the rails, are prone to rupture.

The move comes in response to last year's runaway oil train that derailed and exploded, killing forty-seven people and destroying 30 buildings in the small town of Lac Megantic Quebec. Trains ferrying fossil fuels have also derailed in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in recent months.

Since 2004, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has recorded 12,265 federally regulated railway accidents by train.

These new rules are especially important in light of the significant increase of rail traffic including fossil fuels. Approximately 415,000 carloads of crude were transported by rail in 2013, up from just 9,500 in 2008. Many of these petrochemical trains are 100 cars long and pass through or near many cities and towns.

Transport Canada's new rules:

1. Ordering the 5,000 most dangerous tanker cars off the rails within 30 days

2. Phasing out or retrofitting an additional 65,000 dangerous railcars within 3 years Thicker tanker cars

3. Reduced speed limits (50 mph or less) for areas near water or dense human habitation

4. More route assessments

5. Companies must prepare more stringent Emergency Response Assistance Plans to contend with the derailment of hazardous materials

Industry has expected these new rules and according to Transport Canada, the rail industry has already begun by ordering approximately 50,000 new tank cars.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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