The National Transportation Safety Board is proposing new restrictions and safeguards on the growing transport of crude oil by rail, recommendations that follow a derailment that killed 47 people in Canada last year as well as other accidents.
“The NTSB is concerned that major loss of life, property damage, and environmental consequences can occur when large volumes of crude oil or other flammable liquids are transported on a single train involved in an accident, as seen in the Lac Megantic, Quebec, accident, as well as several accidents the NTSB has investigated in the U.S.,” the agency, part of the Transportation Department, said Thursday.
The NTSB is calling on a pair of sister agencies — the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration — to toughen oversight in several ways.
One recommendation would require more planning by railroads to avoid populated and other sensitive areas.
A second calls for an audit program to ensure railways carrying petroleum products have “adequate response capabilities to address worst-case discharges” of all of the product carried on a train, the NTSB said.
“The third recommendation is to audit shippers and rail carriers to ensure that they are properly classifying hazardous materials in transportation and that they have adequate safety and security plans in place,” the agency said.
The NTSB’s action adds to pressure on regulators following a string of crude-by-rail accidents, including a late-December derailment and inferno in North Dakota.
The Transportation Department is also crafting new safety standards for tank cars, but several lawmakers fear that it’s moving too slowly. The amount of crude oil being shipped by rail is soaring alongside the U.S. oil production boom.
Shipment of crude oil by rail cars is more than 400 percent higher than it was nine years ago, according to rail-industry data the NTSB highlighted Thursday.
“The large-scale shipment of crude oil by rail simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, and our safety regulations need to catch up with this new reality,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman in a statement Thursday.
What We're Following See More »
"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz beat back a primary challenge by law professor Tim Canova on Tuesday. The Florida Democrat and deposed former Democratic National Committee chief led 57%-42% with more than 80% of the vote counted last night. Meanwhile, fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown became the fifth incumbent to lose during this election cycle. Brown, who was recently indicted for fraud, lost to former state Sen. Al Lawson.
Reports of Sen. John McCain's demise were greatly exaggerated. Seeking a sixth term, the Arizona Republican handily defeated upstart Kelli Ward. The Associated Press called the race around 8:30pm local time. Ward was in no mood to be conciliatory, saying, "After refusing to debate while running a slash and burn campaign devoid of actual ideas, I hope the senator can rest comfortably with his conscience as he continues to lecture others about civility. The Republican party cannot win as a national party if we keep nominating unprincipled career politicians whose only objective is perpetual re-election." McCain now faces U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the Nov. 8 general election.
Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto today. "Trump's meeting is at the invitation of Pena Nieto, who tweeted that he's planning to meet with other candidates as well." Few details were made public, but "Trump is scheduled to be on stage at 6 p.m. in Phoenix for a major immigration speech, so the meeting will be early in the day."