In an unprecedented move, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today issued strong recommendations to improve the safe transportation of crude oil by rail.  The greater risk of shipping increasingly more crude oil by rail across North America demands coordinated solutions.

The amount of crude oil now being shipped by rail in North America is staggering. According to the rail industry, in Canada in 2009, there were only 500 carloads of crude oil shipped by rail; in 2013, there were 160,000 carloads. In the U.S. in 2009, there were 10,800 carloads; and in 2013, there were 400,000 carloads. And because North America’s railways are interconnected, the NTSB’s recommendations complement those issued by the TSB. 

Following on yet another train derailment, this time in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, announced proposed regulatory amendments to further improve the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. These amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on January 11, 2014.

The proposed regulations will introduce new standards for certain rail tank cars, replacing existing standards referenced in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations. For example, it will require that new DOT 111 tank cars be built with thicker steel requirements, as well as adding top fitting and head shield protection to the tank car. DOT 111 tank cars are used for transporting dangerous goods of high and medium danger, such as crude oil.