DOT111

Courtesy of AP/Nati Harnik

This is the DOT 111…. It is called the traveling nuclear bomb.  This rail car was deemed unsafe in 1990… it still carries 65% of the crude across North America….  It is these cars that blew up La Magnetic in Quebec.  It is these cars that blew up Casselton, North Dakota.  It is the cars that blew up in Lynchburg, VA just last week…

Here is the explanation via video.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been urging replacing or retrofitting the tank cars since 1991 (George H.W. Bush was president), but the most recent federal effort to write tougher regulations for new cars didn’t get underway until 2011…. You can rightly blame the oil presidency for that delay. New rules are to be out by this upcoming December….

Though these cars look nice, they are easily ruptured in an accident, spilling out their contents.  With US oil production being up 70% over 2009 levels, increasing per day production from 5 million barrels to 8.5 million barrels per day, these cars are getting a heavier workout than at any time in their history.  Increased exposure means increased potential for a harmful accident….

U.S. freight railroads transported about 415,000 carloads of crude in 2013, up from just 9,500 in 2008, according to government and industry figures. That is an increase of 4200%….  So yes, that translates to having 4200 times more of a chance at a spill, 4200 more of a chance at an explosion, or 4200 more chance of a death or maiming….

The rail and chemical industries have committed to a safer design for new tankers but are pressing regulators not to require modifications to tens of thousands of existing cars, despite a spike in the number of accidents…  It is modifications to these cars that will save lives..

Essentially we and regulators are being asked to trade in our lives for their money….  In other words they can fix the problem, but it will cost them money to do so, and they don’t want that.  Since if a train explodes not that many people will die, that is an acceptable loss society should bear they say, so as not to invest any money into a tank car that will soon be scrap metal once newer safer cars are available…..

After last years explosions Canada has moved forward on making their railroads safer… The US has gotten as far as a Congressional Hearing.

Then 2 months ago, the NSTB issued an emergency order.  The order requires all crude oil be properly tested before being transported. And all crude that travels by rail must be carried in these DOT-111 tank cars. The older DOT-111 tank cars were deemed inadequate by the National Transportation Board more than 20 years ago.

Some crude from the Bakken region, including the oil in the tragic Lac Megantic derailment, was misclassified.  What that means is that potentially explosive crude oil was being shipped in rail cars even less safe than the DOT-111’s.  The so-called misclassification has resulted in $93,000 in fines.

 

So if you are driving through Bear, and a train is crossing your path, look up and see if the rail cars look like the one above,  If so, make  U turn and get out of there… quick!   The extra few minutes your drive may cost you, could mean a lifetime of thank-yous….

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