Tag Archive for hazmat

BNSF increases track inspection and tank car safety process

In response to growing community concerns surrounding crude oil train movements, BNSF has announced an aggressive track inspection and tank car inspection program.

BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino has told reporters in Illinois that the railway company has tightened its oversight of tank cars and reduced its tolerance for when potential wheel defects would lead the company to pull a car out of service.

The Texas headquartered freight railroad in late March slowed crude oil trains to 35 mph in all cities with more than 100,000 people.

It also increased track inspections near waterways.

It stepped up efforts to find and repair defective wheels.

“We wanted to take some operations steps to further drive safe operations while we waited for the new (tank car) standards” (finally ordered by the federal government in early May).

Most rail tank cars are not owned by the railroads, but by the shippers and oil receivers who lease them to move the oil freight.

BNSF confirms that its trained railroad personnel now inspect the crude oil route tracks that it operates over 2.5 times more often than FRA regulations require as the federal minimum safety standard.

BNSF also reduced the spacing between sophisticated track-side detectors along the crude oil train main line routes to better and more frequently identify wheels and axles that are beginning to fail.


Oil-train safety kept secret is Headline News Business Report in Philadelphia

"Industrial" by woodleywonderworks from Flickr.com via Creative Commons License

Read the front page business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday. The railroad/hazardous materials secrecy theme is still being hammered by news media.

Is secrecy really possible with such huge train movements?

Ironically, by trying to play “the secret card” with responsible state and local emergency responders that would have keep that intelligence close, the story line about actual repeating train moves has been pretty much been fully vetted as to routes by the free press.

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Virginia looks to improve emergency response at rail accidents

A Nevada National Guardsman with the 92nd Civil Support Team conducts a simulated search and rescue at a vacant building near the Community College of Aurora, Colo., July 23, 2013, during a notional F4 tornado as part of Colorado's 2013 Vigilant Guard exercise. Vigilant Guard is a series of federally funded disaster-response drills conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Manzanares/Released)

Safety oversight may be a federally regulated responsibility for railway traffic like hazmats and crude oil.

However, responding to an actual derailment and possible fires and evacuations of nearby people is the clear responsibility of local community and state agencies. Governors, mayors, and fire fighters are wrestling with technical issues on how to be better prepared. With or without federal help.

Here, briefly, is how rail experts in Virginia see the local and state technical issues. Other states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota are tacking the question for their elected officials. Reports from those states on improving and managing rail safety are expected later this month.