Due to a surge in crude oil shipments in many states across the US, many are starting to review the changes that have been made in the rules that govern railroad movements of hazardous chemicals and liquids.
For example, in Oregon, a state legislative committee is going over the rule changes, and may have to amend a 40-year old law that allows the Oregon Dept. of Transportation the ability to set rules. The new state rules also have to abide by the new federal rules that dictate policy on interstate rail shipments.
About 20,000 tank cars went through Oregon in 2013, which is triple from a year earlier. The oil is being generated in the Bakken field in North Dakota and is being sent to refineries in Washington and California. Many states do not have their own refineries.
As the oil shipments have increased in many states, including Oregon and Virginia among others, state legislators often have been caught flat footed. Many rules are out of date in these states and need to be rewritten. The new oil rules are being driven by a 72 tank car wreck back in July 2013 in Quebec that resulted in 47 deaths. There also was a serious derailment of a tanker train in Lynchburg, Virginia, which led to several cars falling into the James River.