Federal Proposals Would Enhance Oil Train Safety

train-trackes-0766-300x225Federal agencies are currently considering a set of proposals that would regulate the transportation of hazardous materials on oil trains across the country and through communities. The proposals, would keep Indiana communities safer when these trains travel through their areas.

There is no doubt that the shale oil production boom in the US has benefited local Indiana communities. Much of that oil is transported across the Northeast Indiana region every week on oil trains. These crude products are transported on oil trains via railroads, and have contributed to boosting the local economy.

However, behind the economic boom hides another tale. At least since the beginning of 2013, there have been 10 oil train accidents – not just the US and also in Canada – and these have resulted in severe environmental damage and major fires. Residents have been forced to evacuate their homes, and in one case in Québec, 47 people were killed in an oil train derailment.

Accidents involving oil trains aren’t simple train accidents. They result in severe environmental damage, long-term fires, explosions, and a risk of injury and death to residents in surrounding areas.

Federal regulators are waking up to the scale of the problem. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration has outlined new proposals that would specifically place restrictions on the movement of trains carrying a minimum of 20 cars full of flammable liquids.

According to the proposals announced in July, these trains will be required to have enhanced braking facilities. The Association of American Railroads has agreed to use at least two of the three braking proposals that were outlined by the federal agency, but says that the last proposal, which would require electronic pneumatic brakes on all trains, would be too expensive to implement.

The proposals also include a call for stronger and sturdier tank car design, which will make these cars resistant to puncture in an accident. Under the proposals, the older, weaker car design would be phased out. The oil industry has asked for a period of seven years to ensure that all existing tank cars are retrofitted to comply with the new design standard.

The federal agency is also proposing lowered speed limits on trains that are not in compliance with the new tank car design standards. Those restrictions would require that trains travel at a speed of not more than 40 mph in all areas, as well as not more than 30 mph if they do not meet the new braking systems. The railroad industry says that it is already trying to meet these new standards.

The federal proposals are very encouraging, and if the railroad industry does make the efforts necessary and cooperates to comply with all the updated federal standards, then communities will be safer from devastating oil train derailments.

The Indiana train accident lawyer lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent victims of train accidents across Indiana. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of a railroad related accident, contact the attorneys at our firm right away. They will be able to help better understand the details of the claim and possible legal action. Call today.