Since 2008 there has been a shocking 4,000% increase in rail shipments of toxic and highly flammable Bakken crude oil across the United States1 – putting 25 million Americans who live near the rail routes in the path of poorly designed oil trains with a tendency to rupture and explode.2
Finally — after a record year of these dirty oil pipelines on wheels derailing, spilling, and exploding across the country3 — the Department of Transportation has proposed safety rules for shipping oil by rail.
Incredibly, despite the Obama administration's admission that shipping oil by rail represents an “imminent hazard,”4 the dangerously weak draft rules do more to protect oil industry profits than they do to keep Americans safe or prevent oil spills.5
Tell the Department of Transportation: Keep exploding oil trains out of American communities. Submit a public comment now and we’ll deliver it before the September 30 public comment deadline.
Federal regulators have known since 1991 that the most common railway tanker car – known as the DOT-111 – is prone to rupture and explode during derailments. There are more than 100,000 deadly DOT-111 cars are currently in service nationwide,5 but under the Obama administration’s new draft rules, it could take more than three years for these cars to be phased out of use for shipping highly flammable and explosive Bakken crude.6
With oil companies looking to expand on the already-booming oil production in the Alberta tar sands and the Bakken formation in North Dakota, they are relying on these unsafe rail cars to bring their oil to refineries and coastal shipping ports. We can’t let the oil industry continue to endanger communities with rail cars that have serious safety problems.
Tell the Department of Transportation: Protect Americans from exploding oil trains. Submit a public comment now.
Removing dangerous DOT-111 rail cars from our railroads and ensuring that the replacements are built to higher standards is only one way that the Department of Transportation can take action to improve rail safety.
It also needs to limit the number of tank cars of flammable fluids that can be placed in the same train to fewer than 20, allow local municipalities to keep explosive oil trains out of their communities, and ensure that all oil trains are equipped with the best possible brakes and brake signaling systems.
Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx promised recently that the final regulations will “do the right thing for safety in America.”7 But the draft rules don’t meet that standard, and we only have until September 30 to pressure the Department of Transportation to give us the strong safety rules we need.
Tell the Department of Transportation: Keep exploding oil trains out of American communities. Submit a public comment now.
1. "Obama officials tighten safety rules for railways," The Hill, July 23, 2014.
2. "MAP: 25 Million Americans Live Within The ‘Blast Zone’ Of An Oil Train Explosion," Think Progress, July 9, 2014.
3. "Crude by Rail across the U.S.," EarthJustice.
4. "U.S. Issues Safety Alert for Oil Trains," New York Times, May 7, 2014.
5. "Obama officials tighten safety rules for railways," The Hill, July 23, 2014.
6. "Obama's Safer Oil Train Plan Faces Rulemaking Hurdles," Inside Climate News, July 25, 2014.
7. "Are tighter rules for crude oil trains chugging along too slowly?," PBS Newshour, July 23, 2014.