The New York Office of Fire Prevention and Control is insisting that emergency responders stay away from burning oil trains if no human lives are at stake and if there are more than three containers on fire, according to a report by Capital.
Both the U.S. and Canadian governments have found that the DOT-111, the tanker car most commonly used to ship oil, is prone to punctures in the event of a derailment. These rail cars have been involved in some of the most serious oil train accidents in recent years, including a derailment in Lac-Megantic, Canada which resulted in the deaths of 47 people.
Scott Waldman reports:
“If NO life hazard and more than 3 tank cars are involved in fire, OFPC recommends LETTING THE FIRE BURN unless the foam and water supply required to control is available,” the document says. “Withdraw and protect exposures, including cooling exposed tank cars with unmanned monitors if possible.”
In the last year, New York has had at least four oil train derailments, none of which resulted in a fire or explosion. The latest approach by the state is similar to suggestions made by the federal Department of Transportation which recently released a proposal claiming that most emergency responders to oil train accidents don’t have the ability to fight the potential fires.
State officials have requested a fee be imposed on shippers to help pay for the cost of supplying and training first responders to deal with events such as oil train derailments and fires. The D.O.T. and the Department of Environmental Conservation estimate the foam required to combat an oil train fire would cost around $40,000 for each car.
In related news, Disclosures from railroads on crude oil to be made public.