A CSX Corp. train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia, on April 30 that sparked a fire when crude oil tanks ignited could increase pressure on regulators, railroads and tank-car owners to improve oil shipment safety.
About 15 tank cars came off the tracks, and at least one caught fire, as the train rolled through Virginia from Chicago. No one was injured.
“There are safety regulations in the works due to accidents in the last year,” said Andy Lipow, president of a Houston consulting firm. “After this one, there might be a greater emphasis in getting those regulations implemented sooner.”
The Department of Transportation already was studying changes in response to a spate of accidents, and railroads agreed in February to slow oil trains in urban areas and install sensors on tracks used to haul crude.
Canada, stirred to action by a derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people in July, ordered a phaseout last week of older tank cars by May 2017. The United States also has ordered some changes in oil-train shipments, including slower speeds.
Safety has assumed an even higher profile since then, along with soaring crude shipments. Railroads hauled about 400,000 carloads of oil last year, dwarfing 2005’s total of 6,000.