If you knew that tank cars weren’t as safe as they could be, would you be more worried about living along a railroad? According to a report from the US Safety Board, there may be reason to be concerned. Oil train tank cars carry oil or ethanol by rail, and these are bumped, rocked and moved around the country. What would happen if one cracked during an accident and was exposed to a flame? Most likely, it would catch on fire and could explode.
The news article discusses the fact that these tank cars are simply not as safe as they could be. There have been several explosions in the last several months due to the lack of security on these tanks. The U.S. Safety Board believes that these tanks need to be retrofitted or replaced to come up to standard.
The National Transportation Safety Board has said that tank cars should be better able to withstand fire, and there are systems that can help. Right now, the tanks are made with bare steel, but that steel isn’t robust enough to prevent explosions. According to statistics, the flammable liquids have been responsible for several accidents between the U.S. and Canada and in the U.S. itself. Since 2006, there have been at least 33 train accidents involving ethanol and 23 oil-related accidents.
The oil tanks don’t just stay out west and between the Canadian and U.S. borders, either. They travel to the Gulf of Mexico, East and West Coasts. Oil shipments may end up in Maryland in any of the major cities, so this risk is one that hits particularly close to home.
Source: 12 News, “US safety board: Oil train tank cars need urgent upgrades,” Matthew Brown, April. 07, 2015