The owner of the oil train terminal near Clatskanie announced Wednesday that it would begin requiring safer tank cars to deliver oil to the facility starting June 1, a safety step lauded by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The announcement from Massachusetts-based Global Partners came within minutes of the latest in a string of oil train accidents, a derailment in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia that spilled flaming oil into the James River and underscored the risks posed by the rapid rise in crude moving by rail.
Global’s terminal handled more than 319 million gallons of oil in 2013 and drove the 250 percent increase in crude moving by rail in Oregon last year.
Global said it voluntarily was requiring a stronger type of tank car known as the CPC-1232 to deliver oil to its facility on the Columbia River, the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery. The CPC-1232 cars are built with safety features including puncture-resistant steel shields that aren’t found on older, outdated tank cars known as DOT-111s.
The National Transportation Safety Board first identified DOT-111s as a safety risk in 1991, saying their shells were prone to puncture in accidents. Though industry standards were voluntarily tightened in 2011, the majority of tank cars moving oil today don’t meet them. The NTSB has warned that safety risks exist as long as old rail cars are intermingled with the newer CPC-1232 model.
“Global is committed to safety, and as part of that commitment we have made the proactive decision to begin only accepting crude oil unit trains consisting entirely of CPC 1232-compliant cars,” said Eric Slifka, Global’s CEO. “This initiative pertains to all crude oil rail cars received at the terminal, regardless of whether they are operated by a third party or leased by Global.”
Kitzhaber praised Global’s move.
“I appreciate the commitment to safety Global Partners is showing to its neighbors in northwest Oregon,” the governor said. “Rail operators, shippers and facility owners have an obligation to take every measure possible to ensure hazardous materials they transport and receive are shipped as safely as possible.”