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Train Derailment and New Standards

Photo of Imrana Manzanares

Last month, a train carrying crude oil hit a grain train that had just derailed. Tank car after tank car exploded causing destruction, injury, and death. In response to this and other incidents, the National Transportation Safety Board, jointly with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, is demanding that new standards on trains carrying crude oil be enacted.

In 2009, fewer than 10,000 tank carloads carried crude oil; that number has drastically risen to more than 400,000 in the last year. Those living near the tracks are concerned and are demanding new safety improvements, which include proper classification of the oil and shipping and handling parameters. Railroads, shippers, and energy companies agree new regulations are needed, however, the dispute seems to center around the older tank cars.

Many allege the older tank cars are inadequate and prone to rupture easily. Since 2011, the rail industry has required new tank cars be more puncture resistant and stronger. The current issue involves retrofitting or phasing out the older cars. Energy producers argue retrofitting could cost billions, and there is no guarantee the retrofits would work; additionally, producers argue the problem is not the cars themselves, but the fact that they are going off the track, which implies the cause of derailment is operational and the focus should be on enhancing safety.

When someone is injured or dies in a train collision, financial recovery may be available. Such recovery is particularly important when permanent, life changing injuries are incurred. It is important to contact someone who understands the intricacies of the injured party's right to recover. Abraham Watkins offers a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue a claim for such injuries or fatalities.

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