Railroads resist U.S. fix to wreck-prone oil cars

For 20+ years U.S. officials have been trying to prod railroads to fix the thin-shelled DOT-100-type oil-tanker cars that haul most U.S. fuel that goes by rail.

Demands for repair and reform are likely to mount now that the cars, vulnerable to puncture, fire and wreck in typical railroad accidents, have been implicated in the killer train fire that wrecked Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada.

After the Exxon Valdez disaster, the federal government forced oil tank ship operators to adopt double-hull construction. But railroad lobbyists say the government's tanker car cure (see 1991 NTSB analysis, summary, list of past accidents, and recommendations here) is too expensive. Read more in my column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer here, and an earlier version with a bit more historic context here.