Tanker Car Resolution By Charles Davidson

The Club will consider adopting a resolution to aggressively remove obsolete DOT-111 railroad tankers and to restrict their parking at the February meeting.


The resolution is as follows:

 WHEREAS, the citizens of California are concerned that oil refineries transport potentially volatile and explosive products via use of railroad tanker cars that routinely travel within 200 ft. of occupied residential homes; That as a testament to the recent rapid rise in production of both Canadian Tar Sands crude oil and U.S. shale oil and a lack of adequate pipeline availability, railroads have been the frequent method of choice for crude delivery to refineries. According to the Association of American Railroads, there was a forty-fold increase in carloads of crude oil destined to refineries in the last five years.

 WHEREAS, the most common railway tanker car, known as DOT-111 is known to the Department of Transportation, the federal regulatory authority for railroads, as being prone to rupture and explosion during derailments; Railroad tanker cars are typically not owned by the railroad companies themselves, but rather by third party entities, according to the Association of American Railroads, who want DOT-111s removed or structurally upgraded; The DOT-111 tankers were recently involved in the following rail accidents:

  • 2009, Cherry Valley, Illinois, 13 tanker cars ruptured and caught fire after a derailment, killing one person and injuring nine.
  • 2013, Alberta, Canada there was an explosion after 13 DOT-111 tanker cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas and crude oil derailed.
  • 2013 Lac-Megantic, Canada, a train carrying North Dakota crude oil derailed and exploded, claiming 47 lives and destroying much of the downtown.
  • 2013 Casselton, North Dakota derailment and fire of a train that was also carrying the same Bakken shale oil involved in the Lac Megantic disaster.

 WHEREAS, tanker cars travel regularly through communities carrying potentially explosive products and these tank cars have also been left parked unattended for periods of days or weeks on rail tracks nearby people’s homes; After a series of fiery train conflagrations involving unusually volatile shale oil from Bakken North Dakota, the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a warning that declared Bakken crude oil as being significantly more flammable than typical crude.

 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Party of California calls on City Councils, Mayors, County Supervisors, State Legislators and elected Federal Representatives to formally request PHMSA, the federal agency responsible for regulating tank-car safety, to prohibit the parking of unattended tanker cars on California railroads, so as to ensure the safety of the State’s citizens.

 THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Democratic Party of California calls on City Councils, Mayors, County Supervisors, State Legislators and elected Federal Representatives to ask the US Department of Transportation to aggressively remove obsolete DOT-111 rail tanker cars from service and ensure that the replacements are built to higher standards, as the nations railroads have requested of PHMSA, which is beginning to craft new rules on tank cars.