Canada proposed tough new oil tank car standards on Wednesday and said even tank cars coming into service now would have to be off the rails by 2025 at the latest. The proposed standards call for a hull thickness of 9/16 inch, up from the current 7/16 inch or half inch, depending on car type. Older DOT-111 cars are being replaced in Canada by CPC-1232 cars, but even these will have to be phased out by 2023 or 2025, depending on whether they are jacketed or not, under the proposed standards. Jacketed cars have an outer cover that provides additional thermal protection.
Although they are deemed somewhat safer than the older DOT-111 cars, nine CPC-1232 cars ruptured in a fiery Canadian National Railway Co accident in northern Ontario on Saturday. Canada said the United States is following its own regulatory process and will make its own decision on this standard. Nonetheless, Canada said the new car will be called TC/DOT-117. TC stands for Transport Canada and DOT for U.S. Department of Transportation.
Reuters previously reported that advanced braking systems – electronically controlled pneumatic or ECP brakes – could be part of the standard. Transport Canada said it planned to include braking requirements, including ECP, in separate regulations rather than the tank car standards. The rail industry has been pushing the White House to drop the braking requirement, saying it would be very costly and not significantly improve safety.
A rash of oil-train derailments in the United States and Canada have added to pressure to make tankers less vulnerable to rupture and explosion in the event of a mishap. Oil increasingly travels by rail because of swelling output in the two countries and a shortage of pipelines. In July 2013, an oil train derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying the heart of the town. Long oil trains regularly pass through larger metropolitan areas.
Earlier on Wednesday, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt told Reuters that, while the United States and Canada are near agreement on a tougher standard for oil-by-rail tanker cars, they might diverge on the phase-in period. She said they were close “on a tank car standard agreement, but not necessarily on the time frame. … Time is of the essence for us.”