U.S. and Canadian officials announced Friday new tougher standards for rail cars transporting crude and ethanol in response to public pressure to prevent accidents and derailments that have sometimes led to spills, fires and environmental damage.The Transportation Department’s rule calls for what it described as an aggressive schedule for retrofitting older tank cars carrying crude and ethanol. The new rule also requires a new braking standard for certain trains and sets new requirements for transporting large volumes of flammable liquids, including designated speed restrictions.
New tank cars built after Oct 1 will be required to have a nine-sixteenths-inch tank shell, a jacket and full-height head shields, thermal protection and improved pressure relief valves and bottom outlet valves.
“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements that will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
Canada’s Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt joined Foxx in announcing Canada’s new tank car standards that align with the U.S. rules.