Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf’

Pa. Crude Oil Report has 27 Suggestions

August 18, 2015

A report written for the state of Pennsylvania pertaining to crude oil by rail safety has 27 recommendations, including implementing standards for infrastructure and equipment testing, especially for track and wheel defects, and a 35 mph speed limit through urban areas.

The recommendations also call for increased inspections and protocols for coordination between state and federal agencies.

Titled “Assessment of Crude by Rail Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the report was prepared by Allan Zarembski,  who was hired by the state in late April.

“Every week, roughly 60 to 70 trains carrying crude oil travel through Pennsylvania destined for Philadelphia or another East Coast refinery, and I have expressed grave concern regarding the transportation of this oil and have taken several steps to prevent potential oil train derailments,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “Protecting Pennsylvanians is my top priority and Dr. Zarembski’s report is important in helping my administration take the necessary steps. I will also continue to work with CSX and Norfolk Southern, both of which have demonstrated concern for rail safety and an interest in working with my administration.”

The recommendations are divided into primary and secondary categories.

Primary categories are expected to have direct safety results and can be implemented by the railroads directly working with the state or by the state itself.

Secondary categories include actions that are more difficult to implement or which may require action by a party other than the railroad or the state.

In May, Wolf sent a letter to CSX and NS urging them to adopt improved safety initiatives for all trains with crude-by-rail cars operating in Pennsylvania and to fully and expeditiously comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announced Final Rule.

To read the full report, go to

Pa. Gov. Asks NS, CSX to Adopt BNSF Standards

May 22, 2015

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has asked CSX and Norfolk Southern to make operating changes in how the handle crude oil trains in the state.

In a letter to each railroad, Wolf asked the railroads to follow the voluntary safety initiatives implemented by BNSF. Those changes include:

  • Lowering speeds to 35 miles per hour for all shale crude oil trains traveling through municipalities with populations of 100,000 or more.
  • Increased rail detection testing frequencies along critical waterways, going to 2.5 times the current Federal Railroad Administration mandated frequencies.
  • Increased hot box detectors with spacing of 10 miles on all crude routes that parallel critical waterways instead of the current industry standard spacing of 40 miles.
  • Mandatory set-out of all HBD-indicated cars on key trains stopped by a detector.
  • Immediate set-out of all cars on key trains that exceed Level II wheel impact load detector defect (120 – 140 kilopounds) – to be handled as a Level I defect.

“In view of your demonstrated concern for rail safety and your interest in working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in increasing rail safety, I request that you join BNSF in adopting its improved safety initiatives for all trains with CBR cars operating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “Additionally, I am requesting that you fully and expeditiously comply with the Department of Transportation’s announced final rule. I will closely follow the status of your compliance with the federal rule and would like to discuss your willingness to adopt the BNSF additional safety measures.”

Consultant to Advise Pa. Gov. on Rail Issues

May 1, 2015

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has named railway civil engineering consultant and researcher Allan Zarembski to evaluate the Keystone State’s freight-rail system and governor on safety issues.

Zarembski also will make recommendations for crude-by-rail safety measures and identify ways to implement those measures.

“I have expressed grave concern regarding the transportation of crude oil in the commonwealth and have taken several steps to prevent potential disasters,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania sees some of the largest volume of Bakken crude oil transportation by rail in the United States and the potential for disaster is too great to ignore.”

Zarembski is research professor and director of the railroad engineering and safety program at the University of Delaware’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.


Pa. Governor Seeks Stricter Crude Oil Standards

March 4, 2015

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has asked President Barack Obama to impose stricter crude-by-rail safety and enforcement standards.

“The potential for disaster is too great to ignore,” Wolf wrote in a letter to the president. “In my first weeks in office, I have made it a top priority to address this issue. My administration has begun to take steps to increase safety and response capability regarding trains traveling through Pennsylvania.”

Wolf cited a spate of recent derailment of trains carrying crude oil in making the case for greater federal safety standards across the board.

He is seeking a reevaluation of rail speed limits in high-density areas, stricter standards for tank cars and train braking systems, and increased federal assistance in hiring and training more rail safety inspectors.

He also wants Bakken oil treated to remove dangerous volatiles prior to shipping.

Wolf said he plans to meet with executives of Norfolk Southern and CSX to discuss ways to decrease the risk of derailments and accidents.

Rail safety standards have also not kept pace with current shipment levels, Wolf said in asking for a greater sense of urgency in creating and implementing new federal safety standards.