The meeting was convened by the U.S. Department of Transportation after a string of tank car explosions transporting oil from the Bakken formation throughout North America beginning last summer in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, followed by a Nov. 1 explosion in Aliceville, Ala.; Dec. 30 explosion in Casselton, N.D. and a Jan. 7 explosion in New Brunswick, Canada.
"The voluntary changes, which include improving the safety of tanker cars, were announced after a meeting...that included top agency officials [including Secretary Anthony Foxx], executives from the big freight railroads and members of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil industry's chief lobbying group," write Betsy Morris and Laura Stevens.
However, the meeting was not entirely copacetic. Union Pacific, the largest railroad in the nation, stated that the rail industry "had already been proactive in setting tougher standards for tank cars, and...were urging regulators to do the same."
The oil industry went further, blaming the railroads for failing to prevent derailments, and blasting regulators for not imposing new safety rules. "The DOT needs to do more than just host meetings," charged an API spokesman.
Among the measures agreed to:
Rail industry steps:
Petroleum industry steps:
Both agreed to:
For regulators to issue those new tank car standards, "it would take the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the unit of DOT that regulates hazardous-material transport, more than a year to institute new safety rules for tank cars," write Morris and Stevens.
However, within a month of the July 6, Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec caused by an unmanned, runaway, oil-unit train that cause 47 fatalities and the devastation of the downtown, PHMSA issued an emergency rule to Prevent Unintended Hazardous Materials Train Movement.
Note: Access to The Wall Street Journal may require subscription. This International Business Times article mentions the Wall Street Journal report and is a good substitute - open access.