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Concerns grow about safety of rail tank cars

Cherry Valley, IL  train derailment, June 2009

Cherry Valley, IL train derailment, June 2009

As the current oil boom in North Dakota, Montana and Canada continues, long freight trains hauling dozens of black tank cars are rolling across the country and through the Chicago area with increasing regularity.

With tank cars brimming with tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil, these trains have been described as “virtual pipelines” passing through heavily populated residential areas.

But despite the hazardous nature of the cargoes on board, the vast majority of these tank cars do not meet the latest safety standards and should be retrofitted, according to federal officials and the railroad industry.

Older models of the type of tank car known as the DOT-111, which carry flammables like crude oil and ethanol, have an “inadequate design” and are more vulnerable to being breached in a derailment than newer versions, the National Transportation Safety Board has determined…Please click here to read Richard Wronski’s full story in the Chicago Tribune.

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