TORONTO — Canada needs to implement tougher standards for oil trains earlier than a 2025 target, the transportation safety board said Tuesday.
The government proposed tougher standards for tank cars this month in response to a string of fiery crashes. The new proposal would require the cars to have a layer of thermal protection and thicker steel walls. It said the new standards should be phased in by 2015.
But in a report about a fiery March 7 derailment in northeastern Ontario, the Transportation Safety Board said the target date isn’t soon enough.
“While the proposed standards look promising, the TSB has concerns about the implementation timeline,” the board said in a statement.
The board said if current models are not phased out sooner, the regulator and industry need to do more to reduce the risk of derailments.
The March 7 CN oil train derailment was the third derailment in Northern Ontario in less than a month, renewing concerns about the safety of shipping crude oil by train and further suggesting that new safety requirements for tank cars carrying flammable liquids are inadequate. The safety board said all the cars had been retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard.
The new standard was enacted after 47 people were killed when an oil train derailed in July 2013 in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. But tank cars carrying crude that meet the new standard continue to derail and catch fire throughout North America.
A U.S. Transportation Department analysis predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage.
The White House budget office is reviewing a draft proposal for a sturdier tank car design, as well as other safety proposals. U.S. and Canadian officials have been working closely together to coordinate the regulations since the tank cars move back and forth across the border.