Your paper’s Aug. 21 editorial, “Our View: U.S. foot-dragging could lead to another Lac-Megantic,” is correct in saying that federal regulators in the U.S. need to keep communities safe.
However, focusing on the tank cars that carry crude oil, ethanol and other commodities by rail as the sole solution to preventing derailments is misplaced and inaccurate.
The railway supply industry, which owns and manufactures the majority of the tank car fleet in North America, agrees that safety needs to be addressed, but pointing the finger at DOT-111s does not tackle the root cause of derailments. In fact, no tank car, including a DOT-111, has ever caused a derailment.
If we are to keep communities safe and trains on the track, federal regulators must take a holistic approach that looks at the prevention of train derailments through examining operational procedures and practices, and ensuring that hazardous materials are properly classified and packaged.
At the same time, the Railway Supply Institute Committee on Tank Cars recognizes that the supply industry can also improve the safe transportation of crude oil by rail.
In lieu of government action, the railway supply industry has voluntarily invested more than $7 billion since 2011 to put 57,000 new tank cars into service by the end of 2015.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada have been provided with comprehensive Railway Supply Institute recommendations for tank car enhancements, which include steel head shields on the end of tank cars, tank jackets, pressure relief valves, enhanced handle designs and thermal protection systems, among others.
Moving forward, regulators must approach every factor equally, and consider each as part of a comprehensive approach to safe transportation by rail. For more information, the Railway Supply Institute’s proposal can be found at www.tankcarresourcecenter.com.