Rail-tanks still operating despite defective valves

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in the US has recently approved an extension for railroad tank cars equipped with defective valves, to continue transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials through the end of the year. This comes despite an initial March directive from the federal regulators requiring valve replacement within 60 days; a recall affecting approximately 6000 tank cars.
The Railway Supply Institute trade group, representing tank-car owners, wrote the agency in April asking for a three-year extension to replace the faulty valves on tank cars that carry hazardous materials. On May 12, the FRA wrote back to the trade group advising that there was no basis to provide a 2018 compliance deadline, but nonetheless gave them until Dec. 31, 2015.
The FRA order came about a month after crews discovered tank cars leaking from their top fittings while hauling crude oil through Washington state. In mid-January, a 100-car train loaded with Bakken crude had 16 leaking cars removed at four different stops between northern Idaho and the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington.
Six major oil train derailments this year across North America have demonstrated the continued risks of large volumes of crude oil moving by rail. 2015 is already ranked the second worst year for oil spilled from trains since the federal government began collecting data 40 years ago. More than two million litres of oil have spilled from trains so far this year, according to a new analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in the United States.

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