Are Oil Train Tankers Safe?

By Peter DePaolis

Have you ever wondered how safe train-tankers are that carry hazardous materials like oil and gas? Photo of gavel

If you have, then we have some alarming news for you. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board issued four urgent recommendations to railroad transport companies urging for improvements in the voluntary standards they use for tankers hauling oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids.

According to the Associated Press, the agency did this after crashes and derailments made national headlines. Keep in mind, just two years ago, a runaway train carrying oil crashed and exploded in Quebec, killing 47 people in a city.

The NTSB said that it is urging the industry to adopt rules that may include having ceramic blankets around tanks, which could help stop fires and explosions. It is also calling for relief valves on tanks that could prevent pressure from building up inside, if they do end up heating up due to nearby fires.

Since 2011, the industry has adopted its own rules that require sturdier tanks for hauling flammable liquids, but since then, at least four of the newer tanks have been involved in burning accidents, including notable incidents that have taken place in West Virginia and Illinois.

According to the AP, in addition to the recommendations, the White House could implement rules in the future that “will significantly improve the safety of all trains carrying flammable liquids.”

Scarily, some transportation experts have estimated that trains hauling flammable liquids or gases could derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, which could lead to hundreds of deaths.

Talking to an Attorney about an Injury Due to Train Tankers Incidents

It is sad that derailments and explosions may affect people in the future unless something is done to improve the safety of these tanks. We hope that the industry adopts better standards and/or the government produces legislation aimed at protecting citizens.

Keep in mind, if you are ever injured or have a loved one killed in a train accident, it may be a good idea to speak to an attorney. He or she can investigate the incident to determine if there were errors that played a role in the crash, including whether there were issues with lighting or gates near a crossing.

Additionally, a lawyer can help you determine if certain locomotive parts were defective or if a derailment occurred due to human error. For more information about transportation accidents, you can visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.