Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


We’re covering stories from around the nation including a victory for safety for nuclear site workers; President Trump chastises Republicans for not securing border wall funding; and a predicted spike in population fuels concerns about the need for care.

Daily Newscasts

Groups Demand Action on Rail Cars Risky for Oil Transport

PHOTO: About two-thirds of the crude oil shipped by rail in the United States is transported in DOT-111 tank cars. A lawsuit alleges they aren't sturdy or safe enough for that purpose, and asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban their use for oil shipment. Photo credit: dhaluza/Wikipedia.
PHOTO: About two-thirds of the crude oil shipped by rail in the United States is transported in DOT-111 tank cars. A lawsuit alleges they aren't sturdy or safe enough for that purpose, and asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban their use for oil shipment. Photo credit: dhaluza/Wikipedia.
December 8, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. – Oil is being shipped across the country in train cars that the government says are unsafe, and two environmental groups are taking on the U.S. Department of Transportation, saying the agency isn't doing enough about the problem.

The Sierra Club and ForestEthics has petitioned the department to ban the use of DOT-111 tank cars with potentially explosive crude oil, because the groups say they are prone to puncture, spills and fires in train accidents.

Attorney Patti Goldman with the public interest law group Earthjustice says two-thirds of the crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. is in this type of tank car, which she describes as flimsy.

"They've been called soda cans on wheels, and they puncture at least twice as often as the next tank car,” she maintains. “And the National Transportation Safety Board has said they pose unacceptable public risks."

Goldman says DOT-111 tank cars already have been banned for shipping most hazardous chemicals.

But the Transportation Department says it won't ban using them for crude-oil shipment and instead is planning a rule-making process about the issue.

Goldman says that means a multi-year phase-out that her clients contend would take too long.

In the meantime, the Transportation Department has issued an advisory urging rail shippers to use the "safest available tank cars in their fleet" for crude oil.

The DOT-111s can be retrofitted, but Goldman says the federal government is caving to pressure from oil and rail companies experiencing a tank car shortage, by putting off any tougher action.

"The industry, and this is mainly the oil industry, wants to double the fleet before they take these DOT-111s off the rails,” she says. “So, they want to add more than 60,000 tank cars – and then remove and retrofit the DOT-111s."

The Transportation Department estimates 15 rail accidents a year involving oil spills with the current fleet of tank cars, and 10 major rail disasters over a 20-year period.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD