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FACTBOX-U.S. and Canada rail safety recommendations

Source: Reuters - Thu, 23 Jan 2014 18:24 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with detail on previous recommendation NTSB made on DOT-111 cars)

TORONTO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A rise in oil production has spurred a huge boom across North America in shipping crude via rail as energy producers look for alternatives to relieve congested pipelines.

As the amount of crude shipped by rail increases, the risk of derailments has also climbed. According to the rail industry in Canada, 160,000 car loads of crude oil were shipped in 2013, an enormous jump from the 500 carloads transported by rail in 2009. In the United States, railways shipped 400,000 carloads last year, up from 10,800 in 2009.

Calls for tougher regulatory measures in both countries intensified after a runaway train crashed into the heart of Lac-Megantic, Quebec last summer and killed 47 people.

The following are key recommendations issued on Thursday by the U.S. and Canadian transportation safety boards.

TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA

* recommends that United States and Canada impose tougher standards for all DOT-111 tank cars - not just new ones. The TSB believes action is required swiftly and noted the Lac-Megantic, Quebec accident showed older, unprotected DOT-111 cars ruptured even at low speeds

* recommends that railways be required to carefully choose routes on which oil and other dangerous goods are being transported in Canada and ensure safe operations on those routes

* recommends emergency response plans along routes where large volumes of liquid hydrocarbons are being shipped

U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD

* recommends requiring extended hazardous materials route planning for railroads to avoid populated and other sensitive areas

* recommends auditing shippers, rail carriers to ensure they properly classify hazardous materials and have adequate safety plans

* recommends U.S. authorities develop an audit program to ensure rail carriers can adequately respond to worst-case scenarios involving oil spills

* recommended in March 2012 that a phase-out of existing tank cars "may be the best option for the immediate future" due to the challenges of retrofitting the existing fleet with more puncture resistant systems, but added that the safety benefits of new industry specifications on the DOT-111 would not be realized unless existing cars were retrofitted. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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