truckIn the wake of recent train derailments and oil leaks, the oil and natural gas industry says it is working collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and America’s railroad industry to improve rail safety.

American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard, who met recently with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, said the common goal is “zero rail accidents.”

Gerard said efforts to prevent and mitigate accidents will focus on track maintenance, Positive Train Control (PTC), tank car design and crude oil testing and classification. Ways to improve training and communications for emergency responders are also being considered.

“A holistic approach based on sound science and data will ensure that any changes to existing standards and practices achieve real safety improvements and do not shift risk to other areas,” said Gerard

Among the API’s goals:

  • Developing a comprehensive standard for testing, classification, loading and unloading of crude oil– an effort the group says the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is participating in as well.
  • Working with the PHMSA and DOT to share information and expertise on crude oil characteristics. 
  • Improving tank car design. “Our industry has been building next generation tank cars since 2011 that exceed federal standards,” said Gerard. “These new cars make up nearly 40 percent of the crude oil tank car fleet and will be 60 percent by the end of 2015.”
  • Enhancing emergency response training through Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response. Known as TRANSCAER, a voluntary national outreach effort that assists communities in preparing for and responding to incidents.