Legal Update – December 16, 2020

Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board [“NTSB”] issued a safety recommendation to the railroad industry “to mitigate the risks of High Hazard Flammable Trains.”  To paraphrase, this recommendation would require all trains to have a minimum of five non-placarded (non-hazardous material) rail cars in a train of any length transporting hazardous materials.  These non-hazardous cars act as buffers to reduce the chance of a hazardous materials release in the event of a train derailment.  This recommendation follows hazardous material releases in two train derailments in Kentucky and Texas in the last 18 months.  The Kentucky derailment involved 96 cars of denatured ethanol with only one buffer car at the head of the consist and one at the end of the train.  The Texas derailment included a train of 96 loaded tank cars and only two buffer cars.  In this event, 25 of the loaded tank cars derailed.  The NTSB investigated both derailments, and this recommendation voices their strong opinion that these additional buffer cars will cause less severe derailments, lower releases of hazardous materials, and increased safety for not only railroad employees but our communities through which these trains roll.  See 

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