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“We take the issue of safety seriously — it is a priority of our railroad,” said Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for Canadian Pacific, which has its U.S. headquarters in Minneapolis.
BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the rail industry is talking to federal regulators about oil train routes, reduced train speeds where risk is greatest and other steps to address the safety concerns. The rail industry also has voluntarily toughened standards for new tank cars to make them more puncture-resistant — a step that federal regulators are talking about taking.
The National Transportation Safety Board in January recommended routing oil and ethanol trains around populated areas. But many rail experts, including Christianson, say that may be difficult because many rail lines were built to reach places like the Twin Cities.
Fred Millar, a safety consultant who has worked on rail issues in Washington and elsewhere, said rerouting trains remains a good option for crude oil shipping by rail, but it would take strong action by the federal government to make it happen.
“It is a born-yesterday industry,” Millar said of the oil-by-rail phenomenon. “Unit trains are clearly posing a unique danger.”
David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 • @ShafferStrib
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