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Are Train Fuel Tanks Safe?

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Have you ever wondered how safe the giant fuel tanks connected to trains are? Sadly, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), they may not be safe at all.

According to the Associated Press, recently the agency issued urgent recommendations for safety overhauls to fuel hauling tank cars after a series of train derailments led to public outcry. The NTSB said in its report that there are currently shortcomings in the transportation industry when it comes to standards for cars hauling flammable liquids, including ethanol and oil.

The NTSB sent out a series of recommendations to transportation providers saying that the tanks should be “replaced or retrofitted with protective systems better able to withstand fire than the bare steel construction now widely in use.”

The agency said that changes should include the use of “thermal blankets” that surround the tank, shielding it for intense heat. Keep in mind, just two years ago, a runaway train carrying oil crashed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Additionally, since the beginning of 2015, train derailments have occurred in West Virginia and Illinois that have led to significant fires.

The NTSB said that it would prepare actions about how transportation providers should move forward with the safety measures. Even the Association of American Railroads said it would support updates or replacements for fuel-carrying tanks.

“Every tank car moving crude oil today should be phased out or built to a higher standard,” the group said in a statement, according to the AP.


Sadly, as we have reported in previous blogs, Tennessee usually ranks in the top 15 states when it comes to railroad accidents each year. This is why the safety measures being discussed are important to people living in the Volunteer State.

Remember, aside from explosions, train accidents can result in catastrophic wrecks, especially when they involve vehicles. We often read stories nationally about locomotives operating at very high speeds, while carrying significant weight or flammable products, making crashes significantly violent, leading to death and serious personal injuries.

Keep in mind, train derailments or accidents are often the result of negligence. They can occur for a variety of reasons including poorly lit or unmarked tracks, and mechanical issues with gates and barriers around crossings.

This is why if you have lost a loved one in a railroad accident or have been injured, it may be important to speak to an attorney. A lawyer could conduct a third-party investigation into your accident to determine if negligence contributed to the crash. In some cases, you may be able to hold a locomotive or transportation company liable for your losses and/or injuries.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” – Ephesians 6:10

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