Increased crude shipments prompts DOT to study tank car standards

[Story updated July 10, rising death toll, number of missing]


Increased shipment of crude oil by rail is making the US Department of Transportation examine its tank car standards, and possibly could result in a proposal for new requirements by the yearend, an American Petroleum Institute official said.

Cindy Schild, API’s downstream operations senior manager for refining and oil sands, said the effort was under way before a runaway train carrying Bakken crude to a Canadian refinery derailed early on July 6 in Lac Megantic, Que., resulting in fires and explosions that killed at least 15 people and left another 60 people missing (OGJ Online, July 8, 2013).

A spokesman for DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration confirmed that the agency is considering amendments to current regulations that would enhance rail safety, including for the DOT Specification 111 tank cars, and further clarify the regulations.

“This is a tragic incident, and we sympathize with all the losses there. It’s important to learn from such events,” Schild said. “DOT is evaluating new specifications for tank cars transporting combustibles including crude oil, and we will be working with them on it.”

Her remarks came during a teleconference with reporters as API launched a new advertising campaign to support US President Barack Obama’s approval of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. The advertising campaign started immediately in the National Capital Area, and will expand to New Mexico, Minnesota, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Dakota, Missouri, Florida, and other states during the August congressional recess, she indicated.

“Four out of four State Department assessments have affirmed the project is safe for the environment,” said Schild. “Bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress voted to support the approval of the pipeline. There is no question the economic, energy security and national security benefits of Keystone XL serve our national interests.

“All that remains is for President Obama to heed the overwhelming public support and decisive evidence accumulated over almost 5 years of study and move forward with Keystone XL,” she continued. He could move forward today.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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