Canada and U.S. Announce New Rail-Safety Rules for Oil Transport

Canada and U.S. Announce New Rail-Safety Rules for Oil Transport

On May 1, 2015, Transport Canada and the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new rules for tank cars used for oil transport and other flammable liquids. The new TC-117 Regulation outlines time frames for phasing out less durable oil transport tank cars and transitioning to a “next generation” standard requiring thicker steel and thermal protection.

The long-awaited regulations come on the heels of a series of crashes involving crude oil transport trains in Canada and the United States, and nearly two years after an unattended oil transport train exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and leveling several city blocks.

Enhanced Safety Features for New Oil Transport Tank Cars

The new TC-117 tank car regulation requires all tank cars built after Oct. 1, 2015, to include several enhanced safety features aimed at helping tanks cars withstand a derailment and collision while limiting the amount of crude oil or flammable liquids that can spill and ignite.

TC-117 tank cars will be required to be constructed as thermally protected, jacketed tank cars with steel that is 9/16 of an inch thick and with full head shields. Additionally, jackets must be added as an outer cover on the exterior shell of all tank cars to keep insulation in place and to provide additional strength and reinforcement.

The thermal protection required for the TC-117 must be able to withstand exposure to a 100-minute pool fire and a 30-minute jet fuel fire without rupturing.  Full head shields will help protect the ends of the tank car from being punctured by equipment or collisions with adjacent rail cars in the event of excessive end impact or derailment. Previous standards of the DOT-111 tank cars did not require head shields in most cases.

Retrofitting and Phasing Out Tank Cars

The regulation also establishes the prescriptive and performance requirements to retrofit an oil transport tank car, as well as the 10-year retrofit schedule for DOT-111 and CPC 1232 tank cars used to transport flammable liquids. Under the regulation, all jacketed DOT-111 tank cars face a July 1, 2023, deadline to be taken out of service, while all CPC-1232 tank cars must be phased out or retrofitted by May 1, 2025.

The United States has implemented both the enhanced safety features for new tank cars and the retrofitting and phasing out schedule for DOT-111 and CPC 1232 oil transport tank cars. However, it should be noted that the timeline for retrofitting differs slightly in the United States for certain affected tank cars.

More Information

For more information on the standards set by TC-117, please consult the Transportation Canada’s announcement and infographic detailing the TC-117 tank car safety features. Connect with an ALIGNED Insurance Advocate today for risk management tips for oil transport.

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