Posts Tagged ‘DOT-111 tank cars’

NTSB Issues Tank Car Placement Recommendation

December 17, 2020

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a recommendation that trains carrying DOT-111 rail tank cars with high hazard flammable commodities be accompanied by a minimum of five non-placarded cars between any locomotive or occupied equipment transporting hazardous materials, regardless of train length and consist

The recommendation stemmed from the Board’s investigation of derailments of high-hazard flammable trains in Kentucky and Texas.

The Kentucky derailment occurred Feb. 13 in Draffin, Kentucky, when a CSX ethanol unit train derailed three locomotives, one buffer car and four tank cars on a mountainside.

That train had one buffer car at the head of the consist and one at the end of the train, with 96 denatured ethanol tank cars following the head buffer car.

The NTSB found that least protective DOT-111 tank cars were placed in positions that increased the risk of derailment and breaking of the tank cars, resulting in the release of their hazardous materials content.

It also found that during the Draffin derailment the lead locomotives were separated from the hazardous materials tank cars by only one buffer car, which shortened the distance between the breached tank cars and the crew members, increasing the risk of injury or death.

Both derailments, the NTSB said, could have been less severe had the DOT-111 tank cars been placed in locations within the train where they were less likely to derail or to sustain accident damage.

This week’s NTSB report is the first time the safety agency has issued recommendations regarding the use of buffer cars to reduce the risks of hazardous materials to train crews.

More Tank Cars Now Meet Federal Standards

September 26, 2020

A report released this week concludes that 48 percent of railroad tank cars that carried Class 3 flammable liquids in 2019 met the new federal safety requirements, up from 33 percent in 2018.

The report released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics tracks the transformation of the fleet carrying Class 3 flammable liquids to be a fleet of DOT-117s, which meet new safety requirements.

In a news release, BTS said some Class 3 flammable liquids are carried in tank cars, such as DOT-111s that have fewer safety features.

DOT-117 compliant tank cars now make up 73 percent of the tank car fleet, up from 46 percent in 2018.

BTS said DOT-111 tank cars, which lack jackets and do not meet the new safety standards, have not carried crude oil since 2016 and the percentage of all other tank car types carrying crude oil dropped from 66 percent in 2017 to 28 percent in 2019, BTS officials said.

Federal law mandated that railroads stop carrying crude oil in DOT-111 tank cars starting in 2018.

The BTS report described the progress of tank car safety upgrades from 2013 through 2019 by tank car type and type of flammable liquid. Class 3 flammable liquids most commonly include crude oil, ethanol and refined petroleum products.

Report Calls for More Action on Tank Car Safety

October 13, 2017

Tanks cars could be made safer if the Federal Railroad Administration would “enable and incentivize more frequent and comprehensive inspections of rail routes with regular energy liquids traffic,” a report by the Transportation Research Board concluded.

The TRB said that although the vast majority of hazardous liquids have been transported safely by the rail, pipeline, and maritime industries, the volume of that traffic has grown significantly since 2005 and there is an “incomplete understanding of the dynamics of tank-car unit train derailments and a lack of clear guidelines and resources for state and local emergency responders.”

Among the issues that need to be addressed are the technical basis for track inspection standards, lack of training of first responders, and differences in the ways that officials gather and share accident data among states and communities subject to liquid fuels.

The report said some railroads continue to use older and less crashworthy tank cars.

That was disputed somewhat by the Association of American Railroads, which told a congressional committee recently that through the first two quarters of 2017, only 156 DOT-111 cars remain in flammable liquids service.

AAR said the weaker DOT-111 cars are being phased out in favor of the sturdier DOT-117 tank cars.

The TRB reports called for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to ensure that preparedness grants meet the needs of communities, and make sure that first responders are taking advantage of training opportunities.

It wants the FRA to provide incentives for more frequent inspections along routes used for transporting flammables, including the use of sensors and other monitoring technology.

Regulators need to encourage carriers “to make greater use of quantitative risk analysis tools … to inform decisions about priorities for maintenance and integrity management of the equipment and infrastructure.”