Oil train accident brings calls for tougher U.S. safety rules

Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:32pm EST
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By Patrick Rucker

WASHINGTON Feb 17 (Reuters) - A fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia this week exposes lax safety standards and strengthens the case for tougher U.S. rules governing such shipments, safety advocates said on Tuesday.

A 109-car delivery of crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken energy patch derailed in West Virginia on Monday, setting at least nine cars ablaze. It was the latest accident to draw attention to risks of moving high volumes of fuel by rail.

"These incidents are making the case for us," said Karen Darch, mayor of Barrington, Illinois. Several oil and ethanol trains pass through her town weekly, and she has been a vocal advocate for stricter regulations.

This month, the U.S. Department of Transportation sent a safety plan to the White House for final review.

That proposal would have oil trains fitted with advanced braking systems to prevent pileups and tougher shells akin to those carrying volatile propane gas on the tracks.

Oil and rail leaders have backed some safety upgrades but have said regulations should not unduly hinder commerce.

The American Petroleum Institute and Association of American Railroads have worked together on oil train safety and are eager to see the final safety plan, a spokesperson for each trade group said.

The West Virginia derailment came on the same CSX Corp line that crosses through Lynchburg, Virginia, where another oil train derailed in April.   Continued...