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Leading Oil Industry Groups Have Proposed DOT-111 Tank Car Phase-Out Timeline Be Pushed Back, Despite Dangerous, Unsafe Nature of Crude-Oil Trains – In July, After Schumer Push, Feds Proposed A Rule To Phase-Out DOT-111 Cars Within 2 Years or Retrofit These Dangerous Tank Cars With Thicker Walls

Over One Hundred Trains Carrying Highly Flammable Crude Oil Rumble Through Upstate NY Each Month – Many of These Trains Transport Crude Oil In Outdated DOT-111 Tank Cars That Are Prone To Rupturing & Exploding During A Derailment

Schumer: 2-Year Phase-Out of Dangerous, Outmoded DOT-111 Tankers Should Be Non-Negotiable

In light of recent efforts by industry groups to extend the timeline for phasing-out dangerous DOT-111 tank cars, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) to stay the course and stick to the two-year phase-out it has already proposed. In July, following over a year of advocacy by Schumer, the DOT proposed a rule that would require railroad companies to phase out the crude-oil-carrying DOT-111 cars within two years or retrofit the cars with thicker shells because the cars have proven to be prone to rupturing and exploding during derailments. However, Schumer explained, leading industry groups like the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and Association of American Railroads (AAR) have recently proposed extending the phase-out timeline to up to ten years, despite the dangerous and unsafe nature of these tank cars. Schumer is urging the DOT to keep the two-year phase-out intact as it finalizes the rule, which is expected to happen early next year. Schumer said a phase-out that could last 10 years would be disastrous for Upstate New York and Hudson Valley communities where these trains travel each day.

“The proposed two-year phase-out is a common-sense and feasible solution that will help get these dangerous tank cars carrying highly-flammable crude oil through Upstate New York and Hudson Valley communities off the tracks, and the DOT must resist any effort to prolong the timeline. The two-year phase-out should be non-negotiable,” said Schumer. “New York families are put at risk by these train cars every single day, and our communities cannot afford to wait up to ten years for them to be gone for good. The DOT must stay the course and continue moving forward with the two-year timeline it proposed and undertake every measure necessary to ensure the safety of the New York communities through which these crude oil tank cars pass.”

Since August of 2013, the phasing-out and retrofitting of these outdated cars has been Schumer’s number one action item to make crude oil transport safer, citing a 2013 NTSB report that documented the serious structural deficiencies of the DOT-111 car. DOT-111 cars are not pressurized, unlike pressurized DOT-105 or DOT-112, which have thicker shells and heads and are much less prone to breaching during a derailment. The NTSB found that the heads and shells of older DOT-111 cars can almost always be expected to breach in derailments that involve pile-ups or multiple car-to-cart accidents. These cars, prone to failure in the event of a derailment, were involved in several high-profile spills, including the tragic explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec last year.

In 2013, Schumer successfully pushed the federal DOT to propose a rule to regulate these DOT-111 tank cars. Since August 2013, Schumer has worked tirelessly to address issues associated with the hazardous materials these train cars carry through communities every day, namely pushing for the phasing out or retrofitting of DOT-111 train cars that are prone to explosion during derailments. Following previous crashes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a series of recommendations, including to the Pipeline and Hazmat Safety Administration to require all service tank cars carrying fuel ethanol and crude oil to have protections and features that far exceed the DOT-111 design requirements. Schumer has also pushed for better information-sharing among railroad companies and local first responders, who are often the first on the scene of a derailment. Prior to Schumer’s push, railroad companies carrying hazardous materials through New York communities were not required to notify local first responders when trains were coming and the type of hazardous material they were carrying, but a recent emergency order by the DOT now requires this information to be shared with essential local emergency personnel.

Crude oil transport via freight rail has surged over the past few years.  Last year, there were more trains carrying crude across North America than ever before: nearly 1,400 carloads a day. In 2009, there were just 31 carloads a day. New York in particular, has experienced this spike, as crude from the Bakken oil deposit in North Dakota is transported to east coast refineries.  It is transported on rail lines coming from the West and North towards Albany, where it is either loaded onto barges or tankers to carry it down the Hudson, or continues down along the CSX line through the Hudson Valley towards New Jersey.  Previously, Schumer’s office released a map of the CP and CSX freight rail lines, which crisscross New York and pass-through nearly every major urban area.  The CSX line carries crude from Buffalo through Rochester, Syracuse and Utica to Albany, where it then heads south on rail lines along the Hudson River before skirting New York City on its way to New Jersey.  The Canadian Pacific (CP) freight rail line brings crude down from Rouses Point through Plattsburgh, along Lake Champlain and Whitehall, Saratoga, Cohoes, and Watervliet to Albany.  Some crude from the CP line merges with Pam Am Railroad at Mechanicville and heads east to Massachusetts. Most, however, continues to the Port of Albany where it is loaded onto barges or oil tankers to travel down the Hudson en route to refineries in Canada and the east coast.