March 3, 2015

Who’s to blame for the exploding oil trains?

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A week after a CSX train hauling crude oil derailed and exploded 30 miles southeast of Charleston, W. Va., on Feb. 16, its mangled, charred tank cars were still being hauled from the crash site. Of the 27 cars that derailed, 19 had been engulfed in flames. The wreckage burned for almost three days. “It’s [...]

Oil train wrecks increase pressure for tougher rules

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Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries. On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger [...]

Oil trains are taking high-stakes risks with lives

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Five hundred and ninety one days have passed since a train carrying crude oil derailed and incinerated the town of Lac Megantic in Quebec. In that time, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has still not finalized new safety rules on tank car standards and operational controls for trains carrying highly flammable liquids. Read the [...]

FRA’s investigation into W. Va. derailment begins

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On Feb. 22 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that is now able to move forward with its full-scale forensic investigation into the derailment outside of Montgomery, W. Va., followed by a slower start earlier this week hampered by weather and safety concerns. During a media conference in Boomer, W. [...]

Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 per year

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The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S. The projection comes from a [...]

Tankers in W. Va. explosion were newer, safer model

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The railroad cars involved in the fiery derailment in West Virginia on Monday were a newer model that was supposed to be safer than older tankers blamed in other recent oil train explosions. The ruptured cars were built to specifications adopted by the railroad industry in 2011 amid criticism that older tankers were dangerously susceptible [...]

Oil train spills hit record level in 2014

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American oil trains spilled crude oil more often in 2014 than in any year since the federal government began collecting data on such incidents in 1975, an NBC News analysis shows. The record number of spills sparked a fireball in Virginia, polluted groundwater in Colorado, and destroyed a building in Pennsylvania, causing at least $5 [...]

BNSF Railway re-evaluates plan for safer cars

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BNSF Railway Co., the railroad owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), is reconsidering a plan to buy 5,000 oil-tank cars built to new safety standards after some customers voiced concern about the initiative. “At first everybody applauded us for doing it,” BNSF Chairman Matt Rose said today during a panel discussion in Washington [...]

Low oil prices unlikely to hurt railroads much

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OMAHA, Neb. – The stunning collapse in oil prices won’t derail the railroads’ profit engine, even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude shipments seen in recent years. Carloads of crude oil spiked well over 4,000 percent between 2008 and last year — from 9,500 carloads to 435,560 — as production boomed and [...]

Budget bill sets Jan. deadline for rule on oil tank cars

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Hidden away in Congress’ big spending bill, designed to fund the federal government through FY 2015, are stern marching orders to the U.S. Department of Transportation: Deliver a final rule for new, safer oil tank car design standards by Jan. 15, 2015, and require that all rail carriers put in place comprehensive oil spill response [...]