By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department is completing work on a package of measures to control oil train dangers before the Obama administration finalizes a national safety plan expected by May, an official with knowledge of the plans said on Thursday.
The measures, which could include emergency orders, safety advisories, or other controls, should be in force within days, said the source who was not authorized to discuss the plans.
“The Transportation Department will not wait to take action on measures that could improve safety immediately,” the source told Reuters.
About 70 percent of the roughly 1.2 million barrels of oil produced in North Dakota every day moves by rail to distant refineries and passes through hundreds of cities and towns along the way.
Canadian and U.S. officials have wrestled with making oil train deliveries safer ever since the 2013 Lac Megantic disaster in Quebec in which 47 people were killed.
Recent oil train derailments in Illinois and West Virginia have refocused attention on the issue.
The safety plan from the Obama administration is expected to demand that future oil train tankers are toughened with added steel and have advanced braking systems to prevent derailments.
But the plan is expected to be silent on the question of volatility even though officials have warned for more than 12 months that crude oil from North Dakota may be uncommonly explosion-prone.
Another issue will be how quickly to retire older tankers deemed unsafe. (Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Sandra Maler)