WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil, U.S. and Canadian accident investigators urged their governments Thursday to impose new safety rules.
The unusual joint recommendations by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada include better route planning for trains carrying hazardous materials to avoid populated and other sensitive areas.
They also recommended stronger efforts to ensure hazardous cargo is properly classified before shipment, and greater government oversight to ensure rail carriers that transport oil are capable of responding to "worst-case discharges of the entire quantity of product carried on a train."
The North Caspian Operating Co., which includes international giants Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, is considering short-term fixes for the leaking pipe that has suspended output at Kazakhstan's Kashagan oilfield for months, The Wall Street Journal reports.
U.S. transportation officials said Thursday that companies need to come up with safer ways to transport oil on the nation's rail lines following some explosive accidents as crude trains proliferate across North America.
After a closed-door meeting with oil and railroad executives in Washington, D.C., Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the industry agreed to make some voluntary changes aimed at accident prevention within the next 30 days.
Topping the list are plans to analyze the risks of oil trains that in recent years began passing regularly through major metropolitan areas across the U.S., Foxx said. Railroads also will consider where oil trains could be slowed down, to lessen the potential danger along routes that pose the greatest threat to public safety.
EPA inspections of an AllenCo Energy oilfield in south Los Angeles where operations were suspended after neighbors complained about the fumes have turned up safety violations, The Associated Press reports.
A divided U.S. Chemical Safety Board concluded that more study is needed on a proposal to change California refinery safety practices and base them on a European model, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The problems in Ukraine are unlikely to trigger faster action by the Obama administration on natural gas exports, a White House spokesman appeared to indicate Friday, as he noted that supplies in Europe are at higher-than-normal levels because of the mild winter there, according to Reuters.
Public Service Enterprise Group plans to spend $12 billion over five years on capital projects to improve reliability, hoping to increase the earnings of its utility business, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Weather-related rail bottlenecks in Chicago are causing higher prices and lower supplies of ethanol on the East coast, while Midwest plants are cutting production because of a shortage of rail cars, an industry representative told a U.S. Surface Transportation Board panel, Platts reports.
Investors will challenge corporations during the upcoming proxy season to make more environmental commitments, according to nonprofit Ceres, which has compiled a list of resolutions up for votes, E&E reports.
Saying President Obama's proposed "climate resilience fund" will help communities prepare better for severe weather might win it bipartisan support, according to Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, National Journal reports.