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After Derailments, Canada Proposes Tougher Tank Car Regulations

In the wake of two derailments involving tank cars loaded with crude oil, and concern over an expected increase in crude oil shipments by rail, Canadian regulators have proposed tougher construction standards for tank cars and additional certifications.

According to the Jan. 11 issue of the Canada Gazette, the government said it wants to bring tank car design requirements in line with U.S. standards and is proposing an amendment to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act of 1992.

The amendment, Transport Canada Standard TP14877, would require half head-shields, increased thickness of the shell and heads, and top-fitting protection for new DOT-111 tank cars. The proposal also calls for a new design for tank cars carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) or ethylene refrigerated liquid, and two new designs for cryogenic tank cars.

The amendment also calls for additional safety features on tank cars carrying 120,000-130,000 kilograms (263,000-286,000 lbs) of dangerous goods, including crude oil. Consignors and carriers offering transport or transporting crude oil would also be required to maintain a record of the sampling method they used for load classification.

In a separate statement on Jan. 10, Transport Canada said its stakeholders will have a 30-day consultation period to comment on the proposed regulations before they are finalized and published in the Canada Gazette.

"The government of Canada is committed to working with everyone involved to look at every possible way to increase safety when dangerous goods are transported by rail," said Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

Three derailments involving crude oil, including a deadly incident in Quebec, have occurred since last summer.

Last Tuesday, a Canadian National Railway (CN) train loaded with several tank cars containing crude oil and propane derailed and caught fire in New Brunswick (see Shale Daily, Jan. 8). That followed a New Year's Eve incident where a BNSF train carrying Bakken Shale crude oil derailed, exploded and burned near Casselton, ND, after smashing into another train that had derailed earlier (see Shale Daily, Dec. 31, 2013).

In July 2013, a train carrying Bakken crude crashed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people (see Shale Daily, July 9, 2013).

"There is a need for Canada to update the requirements for the design, manufacture and selection of tank cars for the transportation of dangerous goods by rail," Transport Canada said in Canada Gazette. "The adoption of the new rail tank car manufacturing requirements, specifically for the DOT-111 tank car, needs to be accelerated because Canada will soon be manufacturing these tank cars, there is an increase in petroleum crude oil transport by rail, and there is a regulatory misalignment causing an administrative burden on industry."

The department added that consignor certification, currently not required under Canadian law, "would make it easier for our inspectors to find a contact person when a consignment is not compliant with the regulations.

"Under the present regulations, there is a lack of information on the sampling methods used by the petroleum crude oil consignors and carriers for the classification tests and the selection of the proper containers for their transport. The method used to sample the crude oil is very important in determining its classification because its composition depends on many factors. Petroleum crude oil is typically non-homogeneous, containing some percentage of sediment, water and volatile light ends."

In the United States, the recent derailments have prompted lawmakers to call on the Department of Transportation to analyze laws governing the transport of crude oil (see Shale Daily, Jan. 10). The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a safety alert on Jan. 2 on Bakken crude oil, warning it may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil (see Shale Daily, Jan. 3).

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