by Zain Shauk
HOUSTON — Regulations that could force oil companies to use stronger rail cars to move crude likely will be ready in 2015, according to a schedule released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Oil companies have increasingly used rail cars to move crude, but recent disasters, including a derailment and massive explosions in North Dakota last month, have drawn attention to the cars’ vulnerabilities. New regulations that could force older tank cars to be upgraded or phased out are under development, but will not be proposed until Nov. 12 and will be subject to a public comment period until Jan. 12, 2015, according to the Department of Transportation.
However, that initial timeline could shift as the process continues, said Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration spokesman Gordon Delacambre.
Recent derailments and explosions, including one in Quebec that killed 47, have involved tank cars widely thought to be weak.
The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday drew more concern about the tank cars , reporting that 18 of the 20 tank cars that derailed in the North Dakota incident were punctured. The NTSB also confirmed that the tank cars involved in the incident were an aging model that has drawn scrutiny for being especially vulnerable to punctures.