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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Long-Anticipated Regulations for Rail Cars Transporting Hazardous Materials

League Will Review Regulations

May 1, 2015
Stakeholders concerned with the dangers of the transportation of oil and other flammable materials by rail are busily studying new regulations released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Upwards of 155,000 tank cars in the U.S. will need to be retrofitted or replaced under the rule. The goal is to decrease the likelihood of accidents and improve response when accidents occur. The regulations would apply to high-hazard flammable trains, which are “a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or 35 or more cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train.”
These regulations, the Enhanced Tank Car Standards Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains, were issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration.
The League will be reviewing the details of the rule.
Senators Also Announced Legislation to Protect Communities from Oil Transport Accidents
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and five other U.S. senators today also announced the Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Improvement Act of 2015. This bill would impose a fee on companies that transport oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids to fund emergency response and track relocation. Companies would be charged $175 per car for older cars to start, which would increase to $1,400 in 2018. Approximately $600 million would be generated through these fees, which would go towards making the communities adjacent to these rail lines better prepared to respond to a dangerous materials spill. It would create a dedicated fund to pay for oil train accident clean-up costs, advanced first responder training and grants for states and cities to invest in the re-routing of tracks away from highly populated areas.

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