Reaffirmation by the U.S. rail and hazardous materials regulators of new rules for the movement of flammable liquids means operational migraines for railroaders, without actually addressing the underlying cause of crude oil exploding in transit.
Canada's freshly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, reached heavenward Nov. 4, 2015 in selecting the country's new Transport Minister, former NASA Space Shuttle astronaut Marc Garneau. The 66-year-old Garneau was Canada’s first man in space, logging 677 hours during three flights between 1984 and 2000.
Canada’s three major railways should benefit from the Oct. 19, 2015 sea-to-sea election sweep by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada. Trudeau’s party even managed to get four members of parliament elected in Alberta's two metropolises, Calgary and Edmonton—the ideological and financial anchors of the defeated Stephen Harper’s pro-pipeline and anti-rail Conservative government.
The wait for a new tank car specification is over. Now comes the “fun” part: Retrofits to older cars, and potentially onerous operating rules.
Prospects for the contentious Keystone XL pipeline proposed to connect Alberta’s northern tar sands with U.S. Gulf Coast refiners has endured another brutal body check, this time from the home team. The province’s brand-new, left-leaning government elected May 5 says it will cease its predecessor’s long campaign of supplicating and bullying President Barack Obama for the pipeline’s approval.
The final spec for the now-official DOT-117 (TC-117 in Canada) non-pressurized tank car adopts the most demanding of the technical requirements first offered for comment in the notice of rulemaking: jacketed and thermally insulated shells of 9/16-inch steel, full-height half-inch-thick head shields, sturdier, re-closeable pressure relief valves and rollover protection for top fittings.
How crude oil sloshing inside moving tank cars affects train stability was under close scrutiny by the Federal Railroad Administration, the regulator’s Acting Administrator told reporters back on March 13. That was after a string of mid-winter oil train disasters exposed the prevailing focus on tank car thickness to be essentially pointless in the quest to prevent oil train derailments and explosions.