WASHINGTON Jan 15 Safety standards for tank
cars carrying crude oil and other hazardous material that have
been involved in several recent derailments are not likely to
come before next year, the U.S. Department of Transportation
said on Wednesday.
A spate of explosive derailments, including one in Quebec
last July which killed 47 people, another last month in North
Dakota and as recently as last week in New Brunswick, Canada,
has led to concerns over the safety of shipping crude oil by
Officials have asked the shipping industry for input on how
to make tank cars more safe, particularly in light of fiery
incidents involving crude shipments that jumped the tracks.
A prolonged process for writing new rules has begun but many
months are needed to digest the views of stakeholders and clear
bureaucratic hurdles, officials have said.
The rules will likely not be finished before January next
year, the DOT said in a notice of major initiatives released
For many producers, moving crude oil on railcars has been
the preferred means of bringing the product to refineries.
Some 71 percent of all oil produced in North Dakota was
transported by rail in November, or around 800,000 barrels per
day, according to the state's Pipeline Authority.
That compares with 500,000 bpd transported in November 2012,
when 58 percent of the oil had been transported by rail.
Cynthia Quarterman, who oversees dangerous train shipments
as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration (PHMSA), has said the tank car industry has
already accepted tougher standards in anticipation of federal
"Even with new tank cars, I don't think anyone would say
that could have prevented the kinds of incidents we have seen,"
she said last week about a string of recent mishaps.
PHMSA is part of the Department of Transportation.
On Wednesday, Senator John Hoeven from North Dakota urged
regulators to quickly lay the groundwork for new rules.
"We are concerned that unless DOT provides guidance sooner,
the timeline will be too long for industry to transition to
newer, safer tanker cars in a timely way," he said in a
(Additional reporting by Sabina Zawadzki in New York; Editing
by Marguerita Choy)