Schumer bill would phase out older rail tank cars within 2 years

US Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said he would introduce legislation requiring US railroads to replace tank cars carrying crude oil and other hazardous substances more quickly than new US Department of Transportation rules require. His announcement came 2 days after US and Canadian railway transportation regulators jointly announced the regulations (OGJ Online, May 1, 2015).

The regulations are a step in the right direction, but do not go far enough, Schumer said during a May 4 appearance in Menands, NY. Specifically, he said DOT’s new rules DOT-111 tank cars and their Canadian CPC-1232 tank cars to remain in service through 2023. His measure would require them to be gone within 2 years, he noted.

“Allowing these outdated oil cars to continue rolling through our communities for another 8 years is a reckless gamble that we can't afford to make,” Schumer said.

Railroads and refiners have warned that requiring rapid replacement or retrofits of the tank cars could strain manufacturing capacity and potentially disrupt crude shipments by rail. Schumer dismissed that argument.

“For far too long, the rail and oil industries have taken advantage of the lack of rules by making excuse after excuse to delay phasing-out the dangerous and outdated tanker cars,” he said. “While DOT’s announcement has finally forced the industry’s hands to update these rules, there is no question that the new rules don’t go far enough.”

Schumer said his bill also would require DOT to formulate a volatility standard for crude shipments, and add speed restrictions for crude-bearing trains traveling through populated areas.

He was one of seven US Senate Democrats cosponsoring a bill introduced on Apr. 30 to regulate crude-by-rail shipments the day before the US and Canadian transportation regulators announced their new rules (OGJ Online, May 1, 2015).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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