ITeam

City Council committee votes to crack down on DOT-111 oil tankers

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two weeks after an I-Team investigation revealed "inadequate" crude oil tankers rolling on the rails across metro Chicago, the nation's major railroad trade association has now come out in favor of safety upgrades that would involve replacing thousands of potentially dangerous rail cars.

There have been dozens of fires, explosions and other deadly accidents involving these tankers, yet they are still in general use.

The I-Team found that these railroad tankers are not only likely to rupture and explode in a derailment, but that government regulators have known about the problems for 20 years and done nothing about it. Only a rash of recent deadly accidents has raised the level of alarm.

On Monday, Chicago hopped on board the movement to prevent a catastrophic railroad accident in the city.

These are the railroad tankers in question videotaped Monday by the I-Team near Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The same DOT-111's, as they are known, that the I-Team found have a high rate of failure in a derailment.

Last summer in Canada, 47 people were killed within seconds when tankers carrying crude oil split open and blew up.

Videos of that accident and other recent tanker incidents were played Monday in the Chicago City Council chambers, as the Finance Committee considered an order to regulate thousands of hazardous freight trains rolling into the city each year.

''We all have railway right-of-ways in our wards immediately and to schools and hospitals and residential areas and if something like that happened here it would wipe out thousands of people. I can't understand why the federal government doesn't simply take what it knows is appropriate action,'' Burke said.

Testimony on Monday, from the mayor of suburban Barrington, who is leading an effort to retrofit thousands of old tankers still in use.

''To get the City of Chicago on board on this topic, to get them supporting the request for retrofitting the DOT-111's is huge,'' said Karen Darch of the Track Coalition.

''Getting Chicago, the city council, to understand the threat to the city of Chicago as well as all the suburban communities was important,'' Darch said.

A section of the proposal that was struck from the order would have resulted in the banning of dangerous tankers on Chicago railways. The Finance Committee did pass a less stringent order that declares DOT-111's a public nuisance and a serious threat and urges federal regulators to mandate safety upgrades.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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