February 20, 2015

Wyden: Oil Train Accidents Raise Red Flags about Safety of New Rail Cars

Washington, D.C. – Recent oil train accidents raise serious concerns about newer rail cars that carry crude oil in Oregon and across the country, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said today. Wyden urged the administration to take into account a series of accidents involving new cars as it finalizes oil train safety rules, in a letter to the White House budget office today.

Wyden called on the Office of Management and Budget to consult with the National Transportation Safety Board and Department of Transportation about whether newer rail cars, called CPC-1232 cars, are providing adequate protection for communities. Two trains carrying crude oil in the newer rail cars derailed and burst into flames this week in West Virginia and rural Ontario, forcing more than 100 residents in Mount Carbon, West Virginia to evacuate. Three other accidents since January, 2014 have involved trains hauling the newer train cars.

The OMB is evaluating a proposed oil train safety rule sent to it by the Transportation Department in February that addresses the transportation of crude oil and ethanol by rail.

“This week’s disastrous oil train accidents raise red flags about whether the newer, supposedly safer, rail cars are doing the best job protecting our communities,” Wyden said. “I’m going to continue pressing the administration to finish its rule as quickly as possible given the dangers faced by people in Oregon and across the country and looking for other ways to ensure the highest possible safety standards are used when it comes to transporting oil by rail.”

Wyden has repeatedly called for increased notification of railroad shipments of oil and other hazardous materials to give first responders much-needed information to allow them to respond to potential accidents. 

Read the letter here

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