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Crude oil railcar safety measure should be released soon, Schumer says

New York State Department of Transportation

New standards for how crude oil is shipped along rail lines through states like New York are moving forward, but Sen. Charles Schumer says the process needs to move faster.

The crude oil crossing the nation now is hauled in train cars known as DOT-111’s. Safety advocates say the cars are outdated and lack equipment to stop leaks or explosions. Introducing newer models has been a slow process. 

Schumer, D-N.Y., has been a proponent of stricter regulations on the shipments. He tells reporters the transportation department should follow through on a proposed two year timeline to mandate new cars, or have older ones be retrofitted to meet the new standards. 

"With a two year cap, we can be sure that things will move very quickly. And within a few years, we can be sure that every car that carries volatile oil is safe," he said.

Federal regulators are considering that guideline and others. But Schumer says he’s concerned they could be delayed or bogged down in bureaucracy if pressure isn’t kept up.

"With hundreds of these unsafe rail cars carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil through upstate cities and towns each day, there’s ample reason for us to move quickly," he said.

The amount of oil shipped by rail through New York has risen dramatically in recent years. It’s coming from increased domestic extraction in the West and Midwest. And it has residents living along rail lines and train yards concerned about accidents or leaks.

There have been accidents involving the railcars in Virginia, Alabama and Quebec.

New York state has been trying to crack down on the shipments. Results of rail inspections released this week found over 100 defective cars.