Repost from Bloomberg News
[Editor: See also the Earthjustice press release, “Groups Bring New Legal Action for Federal Ban of Dangerous Oil Tank Rail Cars”. Here is the December 2 Petition. Here is the original July 15 Petition. – RS]
U.S. Sued Over Refusal to Ban Older Rail Cars for CrudeBy Andrew Zajac, Dec 2, 2014
Earthjustice and other environmental groups asked a federal court to force the U.S. Transportation Department to reconsider its rejection of an immediate ban on the use of rail tank cars lacking updated safety features for shipping Bakken crude oil.
The tank cars’ safety was questioned after a July 2013 explosion that killed 47 people when an unattended, runaway train hauling 72 carloads of Bakken crude derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
The transportation department is managing tank car safety issues through a series of directives, short of a ban, and rules are being drafted to phase out the older rolling stock, the agency said in November, declining the groups’ request for an emergency ban.
That response fails to consider the risks posed by the cars, including “past findings that the surge in crude-by-rail shipments of Bakken crude in dangerous tank cars poses imminent hazards and emergency unsafe conditions,” according to the complaint, filed today in federal appeals court in San Francisco.
The rail vessels in question are older models, collectively referred to as DOT-111 tank cars, that lack safeguards needed to improve crashworthiness, according the environmentalists’ original request for a ban, filed in July.
Oil from the Bakken shale region of North Dakota tends to be more volatile and flammable than other crude, according to a Transportation Department study released in July.
Production of Bakken crude is soaring beyond the capacity of pipelines, leading to an increased use of trains.
The Sierra Club and ForestEthics joined Earthjustice in the lawsuit.
The case is Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 14-73682, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, (San Francisco).