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Derailments Inspire Federal Regulators to Push for Stronger Oil Tanks for Trains, Faster

On July 23, U.S. regulators said they plan to require railroads and oil shippers to use stronger tank cars to transport crude oil within the next two years.

These new regulations were made in response to a sudden wave of derailments involving oil trains in the past year. Between 1975 and 2012, federal records show that 800,000 gallons of crude oil have been spilled due to these types of accidents. In 2013, approximately 1.15 million gallons were spilled, according to an analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

After a series of derailments, some local and state officials have expressed concern over the increase of incidents. These new rules will lay out a timetable that will require old cars to be phased out much faster. Additionally, tank cars used for crude oil, ethanol, and other petroleum products would require thicker steel shielding, better thermal protection, and have to be fitted with more crash-resistant valves. Older model tank cars that cannot be refitted with these features must be retired or used for less hazardous materials.

The Department of Transportation has been working on new standards for years, but the increase of domestic oil supplies and the use of rail cars to transport the supplies has led the way for the needed improvements.

Regulators are also seeking public comment on new speed limits for those trains, including whether or not to set up 40 mile-per-hour restrictions in urban areas with more than 100,000 residents. The new rules also dictate that railroads must select the route posing the least overall safety and security risk when transporting oil.

Oil spills affect everyone, especially those who have land or homes in the area. The environmental damage is often not seen for many years after the spill occurred.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of the oil spill, the oilfield contamination lawyers at Simien & Simien can help you determine what your legal rights are. You may be entitled to compensation for damages you have suffered.

Call us today at (800) 374-8422 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation form to learn more about how we can help you.