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A train in Casselton, North Dakota carrying crude oil derailed and exploded on Dec. 30, 2013. Photo: Ken Pawluk / Associated Press / latimes.com, via NTSB press release
A train in Casselton, North Dakota carrying crude oil derailed and exploded on Dec. 30, 2013. Photo: Ken Pawluk / Associated Press / latimes.com, via NTSB press release

Schumer presses oil companies on dangerous train tankers

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While in Watertown Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer said the federal government is not moving fast enough to make trains carrying crude oil safer.

Schumer said volatile shipments of crude oil didn't used to be an issue in New York because there weren't many.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

But with the discovery of the Bakken field in North Dakota, Schumer says one third of the oil pumped from the ground there is shipped through New York State. "And so instead of having two or three oil cars a day going through New York State, we have 300,"Schumer said. "And the number is expected to double. And that’s good for the country. Any time we can become independent of Middle Eastern oil, the better off we are. But we have to make sure they’re safe."

Schumer said DOT-111 tanker cars are the biggest problem. They were deemed inadequate by the National Transportation Safety Board years ago.

Schumer says the U.S. Department of Transportation needs to order oil companies to replace or retrofit them. He said two companies, Tesoro Corporation in the U.S. and Irving Oil in Canada, have agreed to retrofit their DOT-111 fleets by May.

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