The new regulations require tank cars to be either retrofitted or phased out. The state of the older tanker cars became an issue in the last few years after several high profile oil train derailments. One of them included a fiery derailment in Quebec that killed almost 50 people.
Crude transported by rail has increased 4000 percent since 2008 but regulations have not kept up. A study by NBC News in 2013 found that regulators had known for years that the older tanker cars tend to leak and explode during derailments.
The new standards require that the tank cars have thermal protection, thicker skins and improved end and valve protections to prevent leaks during a crash. Also, trains that only are carrying crude oil must have all new braking systems by 2021, or must travel at only 30 MPH.
The older DOT-111 tank cars will have to be retrofitted within three years or retired. The oil and rail industries have five years to come up with newer tank cars. They also will have to do more testing of the crude oil that are put into the cars. In some past accidents, the crude oil was misclassified, and some of the most flammable oil was put into the most accident-prone cars.
Our personal injury law firm has seen many train accident cases over the years. We know that oil train accidents can cause severe injuries and death, not to mention terrible environmental damage. In the personal injury cases we have worked on, we have seen railroad companies cut corners sometimes to maximize their profits. So, it is not surprising that railroad companies may sometimes compromise safety on oil trains. We are glad that the new federal regulations are being put into place. Hopefully, they will reduce future tragedies.