Oil-By-Rail Safety Report Says California Needs More Inspectors, New Technology To Prevent Derailments

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The California Public Utilities Commission and the state’s Interagency Rail Safety Working Group have come up with recommendations to ensure that the state’s rail network is up to the task as the amount of crude oil that’s shipped into the state by rail is expected to rise substantially in the near future.

The resulting study that was issued on Tuesday is a result of a six months’ long examination of the rail network’s ability to handle crude-oil shipments.

Oil-By-Rail Safety Report Says California Needs More Inspectors, New Technology To Prevent Derailments

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Paul King, Deputy Director for Office of Rail Safety, told KCBS that the study looked a two primary concerns.

“One is derailment prevention and the other is: if a derailment happened, are we prepared in terms of a response?” he said.

The study recommended more safety inspectors but King said that is not likely to happen for some time.

“For them to be federally certified, it takes about a year. The hiring process takes some as well,” King said.

In addition, the study recommends the phasing out older and riskier tank cars and new programs to improve emergency response including the use of new accident prevention technology.

There have been several oil rail car derailments including a deadly explosion that killed 47 people died last year when oil tank cares derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, a town in Quebec, Canada.

Meanwhile crude oil transported by rail in California is expected to increase from one percent to 25 percent in two years.

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