ATTORNEYS GENERAL TO FEDERAL REGULATORS: TAKE ACTION TO IMPROVE SAFETY OF TRAINS CARRYING CRUDE OIL THROUGH COMMUNITIES
Madigan Joins with Attorneys General in Calling for Action to Reduce Threat of Explosions and Fires from Rail Transport of Oil
Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined with five other state attorneys general to urge federal regulators to take action to improve the safety of trains shipping crude oil through communities in Illinois and across the country, in light of several catastrophic rail accidents in recent years, including the 2013 explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people and a March 2015 derailment near Galena, Illinois, that caused five oil-containing rail cars to rupture, catch fire, and burn for several days. At the peak of oil-by-rail transport, as many as 40 to 50 trains with a hundred tank cars or more of crude oil, pass through Chicago and its suburbs every day.
In comments filed in response to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Madigan and the attorneys general call on the agency to take immediate steps to require that all crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. achieve a vapor pressure – a key driver of the oil’s explosiveness and flammability – of less than 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi). Joining Madigan in filing the comments were attorneys general from: California, Maryland, Maine, New York and Washington.
“These trains pass through Illinois communities on a daily basis, so it is imperative that they are designed and operated to be as safe as possible,” Madigan said. “The federal government must act now to prevent another catastrophic accident and the tragedy and environmental harm that results. “Establishing a nationwide limit on vapor pressure is an important step in that direction.”
Currently there is no federal limit on the vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail. In the comments filed with PHMSA on Friday, the attorney generals argue that reducing crude oil vapor pressures to levels below 9.0 psi is not only practical, but is necessary for minimizing the explosion and fire danger involved in transporting crude oil by rail.