The federal government in Washington DC announced in late July that it was proposing new rules that would eventually phase out thousands of older oil tank cars that carry large amounts of crude oil and other flammable liquids through towns across the US.
This announcement came after 17 tanker cars derailed in Lynchburg VA on April 30.
Some of the details of the proposed rules are being put off until regulators are able to determine how to balance safety with the huge economic benefits of the oil fracking boom in the US.
One of the key issues is to determine what sort of tankers should replace the ones that are being pulled? How fast should they be allowed to go, and what are the braking systems required?
The new regulations are seen as desperately needed in the industry because since 2008, there have been 10 major derailments in the US and Canada that involved spilled crude oil. In some cases, fires broke out; the worst was in Quebec in 2013, which killed 47 people in an explosion caused by leaking oil.
The secretary of the Department of Transportation stated that the regulations should be done by the end of the year.
Crude oil shipments by rail have soared in the last few years, from a few thousand carloads to more than 400,000 last year.