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Archived - Addressing the safety of DOT-111 tank cars carrying dangerous goods

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Removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111s from dangerous goods service and requiring tank cars to be built to a tougher standard

The transportation of dangerous goods, including shipments of oil by rail, is strictly regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. The Act requires dangerous goods to be properly classified and transported in the proper means of containment manufactured to a Transport Canada approved standard.

On January 11, 2014, Transport Canada proposed a new standard for the DOT‑111 tank car in Canada Gazette, Part I. The changes include thicker steel as well as additional top fitting and head shield protection. DOT-111 tank cars are used for transporting liquid dangerous goods, such as crude oil.

Expediting DOT-111 standards

Transport Canada is requiring that all DOT-111 tank cars built before the January 2014 proposed standard that are used to transport crude oil and ethanol be phased out or refitted within three years.

Industry is already building new tank cars to this standard. Approximately 55,000 of them have been ordered, representing nearly half of the current DOT-111 tank car fleet used to transport flammable liquids, such as crude oil.

New Protective Direction

Under the authority of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Transport Canada is issuing a Protective Direction that requires the immediate phase-out of the least crash-resistant tank cars. Tank cars being removed from service are those that are not equipped with continuous bottom reinforcement, which pose a much higher risk of failure in a derailment.

The roughly 5,000 tank cars in North America that must be immediately removed from dangerous goods service can be repurposed to transport non-dangerous goods in Canada.

Future standards for DOT-111 tank cars

Transport Canada will formalize the updated DOT-111 standards in Canada Gazette, Part II, this summer. The department is working with stakeholders, including officials in the U.S., to determine what additional requirements may be needed for the North American fleet of DOT-111 tank cars. Canada is committed to implementing more stringent tank car standards in the future based on consultations with U.S. regulatory agencies and industry.

This image depicts the anatomy of a DOT-111 tank car and highlights improvements made in the DOT-111 tank car standard published in Canada Gazette, Part I. The improvements include top fitting protection, thicker steel for jacketed and non-jacketed tank cars, half head shields, and heads and shells made of normalized steel.   Top fitting protection, located at the top centre of the tank car, protects the pressure release valves from being damaged.   Thicker steel, used on the body of the tank car, strengthens the tank car and holds the insulation in place.   Half head shields, which cover the lower half of the tank car’s front face, increases puncture resistance.   The heads and shells of the tank car will be made of steel to improve flexibility and durability.

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