Repost from The Wall Street Journal
New Measures Mandate Tank Cars That Carry Crude Oil to Be Built with Thicker Steel WallsBy David George-Cosh, June 27, 2014
TORONTO—Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced new rules Friday aimed at bolstering safety measures for transporting dangerous goods, such as crude oil, over the country’s railway networks.
The new measures include updating safety-reporting requirements for rail companies operating in Canada, mandating tank cars that carry volatile crude be built with thicker steel walls, and improving data-reporting requirements for railways.
Canadian and U.S. regulators have urged the rail industry to improve safety measures after several recent accidents involving trains carrying crude, including last year’s derailment of a crude-carrying train in rural Quebec in July, which killed 47 people.
“Our government is committed to railway safety and the safe movement of dangerous goods,” Ms. Raitt said in a statement. “The upcoming regulations will further strengthen safety in Canada’s already robust transportation system.”
A spokesman for Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said the company was reviewing the announcement and that it has a “strong” set of existing safety measures it discloses to the federal government.
Jim Feeny, a spokesman from Canadian National Railway Co. said that its position on safety disclosure “largely aligns” with the federal government’s proposals, but it was also reviewing the announced measures.
The new rules announced Friday will include amendments to legislation to require DOT-111 tank cars to abide by new standards such as thicker steel walls and better top protection to reduce spills in a derailment.
The ministry will also require the country’s short-line railroads to upgrade their safety-management disclosure by providing Transport Canada with the same reports on safety risks that the country’s major rails provide. The proposal affects 35 railways in Canada, Transport Canada said.
Transport Canada is also requesting that Canada-based railroads provide measurable data such as maintenance and repair records to the federal government that could better address safety risks before they occur.
Friday’s measures follow a series of steps Ms. Raitt announced in April to improve rail transport in response to recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada after its investigation of last year’s Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
The federal government also ordered older DOT-111 tank cars to be phased out or retrofitted in three years, and added a requirement that all crude oil shipments include emergency response plans.
It is unclear how many DOT-111 cars operate in Canada, but the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association says that there are 228,000 general-purpose tank cars in service in the U.S. known as DOT-111s.
The U.S. has adopted tougher classification standards for shipping crude-by-rail that but hasn’t curbed the use of older DOT-111 tank cars on the country’s tracks despite last year’s deadly accident in Quebec and more recently, a fiery derailment in Lynchberg, Va.