DOT Advancing Rule to Strengthen Tank Cars

Secretary Anthony Fox said his agency will send a "comprehensive rulemaking package" to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs this week.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Casselton, N.D., last week, at the request of the North Dakota congressional delegation, to hear personally from residents affected by the December 2013 of a freight train derailment there. The train consisted of tank cars loaded with Bakken crude oil, and there was an explosion and a large fire that caused the town of 2,400 residents to be evacuated. Foxx discussed DOT's rulemaking to encourage stronger tank cars for moving flammable materials.

In a statement, Foxx said "all of the actions we have taken to date are just first steps. More safety measures are on the way. In fact, I was happy to have the opportunity in Casselton to announce that DOT plans to send a comprehensive rulemaking package to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs [this] week. The proposal will include options for enhancing tank car standards. We look forward to working collaboratively with OIRA on the administration's proposal and initiating the formal comment process as soon as possible."

He mentioned other steps DOT has taken on this issue, including issuing multiple safety advisories, conducting investigations, and reaching agreements with the rail industry to reduce speeds, use new braking technology, and improve first responders' training.

The rule was published as an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in September 2013. It asked stakeholders for comments about enhancing standards for DOT-111 tank cars that are used to transport Packing Group I (materials posing great danger ) and II (medium danger) hazmats.

"I'm also sending a letter today to producers requesting 'all available results and data regarding the variability and flammability of Bakken crude.' It's not the first time we've asked for this information, but we continue to cast as wide a net as possible to gather as much data as possible," Foxx said in the statement.

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