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Feds Release New Rules For Oil Tank Rail Cars

Guidelines Face Criticism From Both Sides Of Debate

EcololyWA (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced its new safety standards for oil train cars Friday, but the overhaul is not getting a warm welcome from either the rail industry or advocates for tougher standards.

The new regulations come amid growing concerns over increasing oil shipments and derailments. They require retrofitting older tank cars with thicker shells and thermal protection over several years. The new rules also call for reduced speeds and new braking standards for trains with 70 or more cars carrying volatile crude.

Guy Wolf, a member of Citizens Acting for Rail Safety in the La Crosse area, said the DOT’s rule changes don’t go far enough.

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“They have to enforce it and make these rules come into effect much, much faster and much more stringent than they are now,” Wolf said.

A spokesman for the Association of American Railroads said new braking requirements won’t prevent accidents and slowing trains will back up rail traffic. A BNSF Railway spokeswoman said that change may have devastating impacts on shippers and the economy.