On May 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the final version of a new regulation on transport of oil and other flammable liquids by rail.
According to the May 1, 2015, USDOT’s news release, the main features of the new regulation (or “rule”) are the following:
*a new tank car standard and “an aggressive, risk-based retrofitting schedule” for older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol;
*a new braking standard for certain trains;
*new operating protocols, such as routing requirements, speed restrictions, and information for local government agencies; and
*new sampling and testing requirements to improve classification of energy products being transported.
The May 1 news release and more information from USDOT on the regulation are available online at http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/final-rule-on-safe-rail-transport-of-flammable-liquids.
The new regulations were proposed on July 23, 2014 (see U.S. DOT Announces Comprehensive Proposed Rulemaking for the Safe Transportation of Crude Oil, Flammable Materials, U.S. Department of Transportation News Release, 7/23/14.) Since 2012, the Department of Transportation had been studying possible changes to this area of regulations, but the issue took on more public urgency following the April 30, 2014, derailment in Lynchburg of a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Norfolk (which lead to an explosion and fire in the city’s downtown and resulted in three cars falling into the James River), as well as other recent (and even more serious) incidents. For more on the Lynchburg incident, please see the following News Grouper post: Oil-train Derailment on April 30, 2014, along James River in Lynchburg, Va. – News Updates Through May 1, 2015.