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Government & Politics

Federal Regulators Cut Back on Safety Requirements for Rail Tanker Cars

photo of September,  2018 -- Tank car derail at a river crossin in Iowa
SIOUX COUNTY, IOWA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
2017 tanker car derailment near Alton, Iowa

The Department of Transportation has rescinded a 2015 order involving the safety of trains that haul volatile materials.  The move is part of the Trump Administration’s effort to reduce government regulation. 

photo of Steven Ditmeyer
Credit U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Steven Ditmeyer is a rail safety consultant

After several derailments, including one in 2013 that killed 47 people, federal regulators ordered trains carrying explosive liquids to use electronic braking systems. With such systems trains stop faster and fewer rail cars tear loose in accidents.  But a Transportation Department review found the cost of the systems far exceeding any savings from having fewer accidents and less damage.

Steven Ditmeyer is a rail safety consultant. He says the review overlooked important data, but even after learning that, the DOT did not change its mind about dropping the regulation. Well, there were some states or other entities that were thinking of appealing to court to get a stay on that.  But it certainly ends it for now.”

Trains carrying volatile substances like crude oil frequently cross northern Ohio.