Sunday, May 4, 2014

Canada Moves to Delete DOT-111 Tankers

Finally, progress is made to delete the controversial DOT-111 tank cars, which have wreaked so much havoc and destruction, transporting crude oil.

Was this the result of the National Transportation Safety Board taking action? No.

Was this a recommendation by the American Association of Railroads - nah - they represent the railroads, not the rest of us.

Was it promulgated by our "do nothing Congress." Nope.

The action was taken by our neighbors to the north!

Transport Canada.

The Honorable Minister Lisa Raitt announced last week, that by May 2017, some 78,000 DOT-111 tankers will be banned from Canada's rail network.  See Protective Direction no. 34, dated 23 April 2014.

In addition, Minister Raitt announced that within 30 days, Canada will prohibit some 5,000 older DOT-111 tank cars from transporting crude oil or ethanol in Canada.  Cars must be unloaded after that date.

These actions are a direct response to the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic Ontario, of which I wrote extensively last year.

"We understand the necessity of harmonizing with the United States on these matters," Transport Minister Lisa Raitt told reporters. "But on this one, we can move faster and we will move faster, and we want to ensure that since we're seeing this increase in crude on the rail, we want to ensure that we have the safest system in place."

The U.S. and Canadian railway associations applauded Ottawa's move, conscious of the fact that they can be liable for accidents involving unsafe cars that they haul but do not own.Since October 2011, new oil tank cars have been built to a higher standard, known as Casualty Prevention Circular 1232. The CPC 1232 standard will be the minimum requirement in Canada three years from now.

It is a criminal shame, that Regulators have known since 1991 that the DOT-111  rail car has a high propensity to rupture in derailment scenarios, comparing it to Ford's Pinto, which in the 1970s was recalled amid questions that a flawed fuel tank would catch fire in a rear-end collision.

Of the 20 cars in last Decembers Casselton South Dakota wreck, 18 cars were breached. Of 63 tank cars wrecked in Lac-Mégantic Ontario, 60 were breached.

The number of crude shipments by rail has increased by 443 percent since 2005. North Dakota accounts for much of the increase. About 75 percent of its oil heads to refineries by rail, with pipelines covering the remainder.

On April 23, Lisa Raitt announced Canada's response to the DOT-111 bomb threat. One week later, April 30th, 13 cars of a 105 car CFX freight train derailed, three cars dropping into the James River at downtown Lynchburg Virginia, dumping Bakken Crude into the water supply for 77,000 souls.

A report this weekend indicates there is a nine mile long sheen on the James River.  And there is reason to believe that heavier material contained in the crude oil, is smothering life at the accident scene. Authorities are monitoring river intakes, that supply potable water for residents.

So what regulatory action is taking place south of the border?


As usual, profit and politics trump public safety. So what's holding up action in the USA?

Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour asked that of National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman on the Wednesday show. The NTSB, "an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the U.S. and significant accidents in other modes of transportation-railroad, highway, marine and pipeline" can only make recommendations to the regulators who make them.

The DOT-111 Design Problem
"Hersman attributes the problem to the "different interests" involved. We heard from the petroleum industry. We also heard from the rail industry, and we heard from the people who manufacture and own the tank cars. Everybody has got to work together to try to solve this problem."

They don't.

That means your ass is on the line if you have oil trains passing through your venue.

This is MY reality in the Pacific Northwest, as Burlington Northern Santa Fe increases Unit Oil Trains.  I do not want them in my world.  Neither BNSF, oil shippers, nor anyone in the supply chain give a flying duck as to what transpires if a derailment happens.

If it fowls the environment, like BP did in the Gulf, they simply throw money on the problem, and it "goes away."


And finally, no sympathy from Big Business should a pipe line rupture in your neighborhood.  Last week the Huffingotn Post revealed the mindset at Kinder Morgan, a pipleline company, similar to Trans Canada (re: Keystone XL).

There is at least something of a bright side to oil spills, pipeline company Kinder Morgan says. In a recent submission to the National Energy Board, the company says marine oil spills “can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies” thanks to the economic activity generated by cleanup operations.

“Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers,” the company says. The comments appear in a 15,000-page application to the NEB to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to Port Metro Vancouver.

1 Comments - Click here:

Ole M. Amundsen, Jr. said...

Robert, Cornell University Law Professor Lynn Stout wrote a book a year or so ago titled: "The Shareholder Value Myth" in which she explores the singled minded priority of far too many corporations leading to a mind set that the pursuit of "shareholder value" is the only legitimate goal of a corporation. Combine that thinking with the dissolution of the separation of professional management from ownership and greed runs wild sanctioned by courts and regulators! Doing the right thing, common good, concern for public welfare are all regarded as passé.

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