Will Latest Oil Train Accident Renew Commitment to Safety Improvements?

By Larry O'Brien

Industry Trends

Image removed.   ARC Analyst Paula Hollywood is our in house guru on reliability and she recently sent me this post about the train fire in Mount Carbon, WV.  It is interesting to note that President Obama also vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline yesterday yet another time.  It seems clear that the oil will flow with or without the pipeline, and we will probably see more incidents like this until we can be rational and build a more secure infrastructure to transport our oil. "As of this writing, the fire resulting from the derailment of an oil train near Mount Carbon, WV on February 16, 2015 is  out and cleanup operations are in progress.  Early reports indicate the 109 car train carrying Bakken crude was traveling at 33 mph, well within the 50 mph speed limit.  According to Reuters the role of gas vapors will be explored by investigators.  http://www.reuters.com/article  Weather could have been a factor, but the still burning fire prevents investigators from gathering further evidence to determine the root cause. ARC has been following the progress of oil train safety improvement initiatives.  This post /blog/arcwire-industry-news reported the deflated enthusiasm on the part of the rail industry and regulators to previously stated commitments.  This analyst predicted that it would take another incident to renew the impetus for change.  Now that it has occurred, will it change anything? Fortunately, there have been no reported fatalities or even serious injury as a result of this accident, but surrounding towns were evacuated and supply of municipal water halted.  Environmentalists have been the first to renew public debate.  According to lohud.com, http://www.lohud.com/ CSX stated that all of the tank cars involved in the WV accident were the improved CPC 1232 model, a beefed up version of the DOT-111 model being phased out by regulators. Was this incident severe enough to renew the enthusiasm of all stakeholders to tank car safety improvements?  Official comments have been limited with industry representatives preferring not to comment until the investigation is complete.  This analyst is now pondering whether current measures under consideration are robust enough to meet the goal. "

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