Safety must be a priority
Another train carrying tankers full of highly explosive oil derailed last week. The derailment in Lynchburg, Va. caused a fire that required the evacuation of nearby buildings and caused a substantial oil spill in the James River - the source of drinking water for Lynchburg and cities downstream, including Richmond.
Fortunately, no one was injured. But that wasn't the case in earlier accidents in the United States and Canada, which have killed more than 50 people in less than a year.
Yet a long string of derailments, including several in highly populated areas, has not produced great urgency for safety improvements within the relevant industries. As federal regulators ponder new requirements, there has been no move by the rail industry to deploy safer tanker cars.
And when federal regulators asked for technical details about the oil being shipped from the upper Great Plains to East Coast refineries, only three companies responded.
Canada has mandated doubled-walled oil tankers and other safety measures. Congress, the Department of Transportation and other federal regulators must expedite the safety upgrades in the United States.