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North American oil companies start replacing oil tank cars

February 25, 2014
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<photocredit>Arvydas KniukA!ta/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

A series of incidents involving crude-carrying trains over the past year has caused serious concerns over railway transportation of fuel and prompted authorities to start reviewing regulations. But U.S. and Canadian oil companies are not planning to wait for federal and state agencies to finalize these before they act and have started a voluntary replacement of old tank cars, FuelFix reported.

Among the businesses that first declared plans to modernize their fleet were San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. and Canadian refinery operator Irving Oil. The reason for their action was the finding that the DOT-111 models manufactured prior to 2011 were liable to rupture. Other companies, including Valero Energy Corp. and Phillips 66, stated that their tank cars met all safety standards for models manufactured after 2011.

RELATED: North Dakota train accident will not affect rail movements of crude, analysts say

Meanwhile, BNSF Railway Co., which offers transportation services to oil companies, is reported to be seeking to buy 5,000 new crude tankers with enhanced protection and features that go beyond current standards.

The voluntary replacement of old models may be a step in the right direction but the American Petroleum Institute claims that it will not be enough. Instead, it is calling for a more holistic approach that would focus on preventive measures and not just minimize the impact of a potential incident. The industry is working with railroads and railcar manufacturers to investigate whether design changes could improve safety without compromising other areas.

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