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What People Are Saying About Rail Safety and Oil

Karen Darch, Village President of Barrington, IL:

DOT-111s are the “Ford Pinto of railroad cars.”

[Source: Chicago Tribune]

Former NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman:

“We are very clear that this issue needs to be acted on very quickly. There is a very high risk here that hasn't been addressed. They aren't moving fast enough. We don't need a higher body count before they move forward.”

[Source: Huffington Post]

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):

“I strongly urge industry to follow this new safety alert and immediately begin phasing out the use of DOT-111 rail cars for shipping crude oil. But we cannot rely on voluntary industry action alone to protect the safety of New Yorkers, and the Administration must finish its work to implement a final rule to permanently ban the shipment of crude oil on DOT-111 cars.”


National Transportation Safety Board (March 2, 2012):

“Clearly, the heads and shells of DOT-111 tank cars … can almost always be expected to breach in derailments that involve pileups or multiple car-to-car impacts.”


National Transportation Safety Board (Dec. 5, 2013):

“Based on previous and ongoing NTSB accident investigations, the documented poor accident performance of existing specification DOT-111 tank cars continues to raise serious concerns about the safety of communities, emergency responders, and other individuals who may come in contact with flammable hazardous materials transported in these cars … [R]ecent railroad accidents have shown that using DOT-111 tank cars to ship flammable liquids creates an unacceptable public risk.”


James Beardsley, Global Rail Practice Leader for Marsh & McLennan Cos.’ insurance brokerage unit:

“There is not currently enough available coverage in the commercial insurance market anywhere in the world to cover the worst-case [train derailment] scenario.”

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY):

“We need better cars for the freight rails. They’re using the wrong cars for these oil shipments. We know they’re not safe. We need to replace those immediately.”

[Source: WAMC Radio]

U.S. Department of Transportation (May 7, 2014):

“The number and type of petroleum crude oil railroad accidents described below that have occurred during the last year is startling, and the quantity of petroleum crude oil spilled as a result of those accidents is voluminous in comparison to past precedents.”


Herb Krohn, Legislative Director for the United Transportation Union:

“The history of railroads in America has been one where things generally don’t get corrected until people die. And that is frightening to me.”

[Source: Earthfix]

Association of American Railroads (January 2014):

“Should an incident occur within or near a densely populated area … an incident … has the potential to be truly catastrophic and result in billions of dollars in personal injury and property damage claims. The damages potentially resulting from an exposure could risk the financial soundness and viability of the rail transportation network in North America.”

[Source: Canadian Transportation Agency]

Steve Massey, City Councilman in Rainier, OR:

“If anything goes wrong, we would be very, very, very vulnerable. We hate to even think about anything going wrong and we hope that there’s a moratorium put on these trains until we get these cars refitted.”

[Source: Earthfix]

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA):

“Making it voluntary isn’t going far enough … As you can see the train route goes through every major city in the Northwest. All across my state, people are having this debate in their local communities. What’s happening is an explosion of product through this area and not the right response and safety regulations. So, we are urging a mandatory date for getting rid of these DOT-111 cars and a mandatory rule on safety.”


Albert Ratner, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Iowa:

“If you’re in areas where they’re going 40, 50 miles an hour, you’re really rolling the dice because if the car derails, the car’s not designed for that.”

[Source: KCRG]

Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

“I want to know how much oil will be shipped through my state and how we can be assured the kind of tragedy that happened in Quebec won’t devastate families in our communities. The federal government plays a significant role in regulating these trains, but we as a state can and will do more to make sure we’re protecting our cities and residents.”

[Source: Seattle PI]

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

“[T]he derailment of trains carrying [Bakken] crude could have devastating impacts to environmentally sensitive areas in Oregon and to human life … I am writing to express my concern and frustration at the amount of time it is taking to update tank car standards and institute other safety measures to ensure the safest transport possible of volatile crude coming out of the Bakken region.”


U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR):

“Right now, there is so much uncertainty that people aren’t going to make investments in safer cars and they’re going to keep running these crummy cars and killing people.”

[Source: EarthFix]

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV):

“Mr. President, we cannot wait for another devastating derailment and explosion to happen here that will force us into action. The time to act is now.”

[Source: Miami Herald]

New York Assemblyman James Skoufis:

“I’m calling for the immediate ban of DOT-111 tank cars … Every day, these tank cars carry hazardous materials without adequate regulations, jeopardizing our families’ health and safety.”


  • The crude-by-rail explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Canada in 2013.

The crude-by-rail explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, killed 47 people in 2013.

Photo courtesy of Sûreté du Québec

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