The U.S. Transportation Department has drafted rules that provision a six-year period for oil companies and railroad operators to replace old tank cars that are prone to rupture with new, safer ones, but it seems that operators have no plans to wait that long. According to media reports, the oil industry and railroads are already implementing their own plans for phasing out dangerous cars, on a voluntary basis.
The measures, first reported by Bloomberg, have been implemented by members of the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of American Railroads following discussions with federal regulators earlier this year.
The industry is addressing the issue in an aggressive manner and replacement of old tank cars is taking place at a much faster rate than the government had anticipated, commented Brigham McCown, a former head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, as quoted by Fuel Fix.
The government would require the phase-out of all DOT-111A cars manufactured prior to October 2011, when the previous voluntary measures for improved safety of railway oil transportation were adopted. The rate at which the replacement is happening has already created a backlog for new tank cars.
But certain questions are likely to remain open until regulators have finalized their rules. One of these is the required hull thickness, with possibilities ranging between 9/16 inch, 1/2 inch or some other measurement thicker than current requirement for 7/16 inch thickness.