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New rail tank standards for safer trains

Rail tank cars used to transport crude oil and many other flammable liquids will have to be built to stronger standards to reduce the risk of a catastrophic train crash and fire, under sweeping new safety rules unveiled today by U.S. and Canadian transportation officials.

The regulations are a long-awaited response to a series of fiery train crashes in the U.S. and Canada, including four so far this year.

The most serious accident occurred in July 2013, when a runaway oil train derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, just across the border from Maine, killing 47 people and destroying most of the town’s central business district.

Under the rules, new tank cars carrying the most volatile liquids, including crude oil and ethanol, must have an outer shell, a thermal lining to withstand fire, improved top and bottom fittings and thicker, steel walls to keep them from rupturing.

 

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