Aurora, Barrington ask judge to throw out oil train rules

  • Placards show this train is carrying crude oil past Northwest Highway in Barrington.

      Placards show this train is carrying crude oil past Northwest Highway in Barrington. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/13/2015 9:26 PM

Barrington and Aurora are taking the federal government to court in hopes of getting a rewrite of oil train regulations.

Recent rules issued by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration require stronger, more resilient tank cars be built to carry certain types of highly flammable liquids including crude oil and ethanol. Puncture-prone, older tank cars (known as DOT-111s) transporting similar hazardous materials are to be retrofitted to the new standards.

 

But the rules only apply to highly flammable liquids in 20 consecutive tank cars or in 35 cars distributed along the train and that leaves a dangerous loophole, leaders with Aurora and Barrington argue.

The towns Wednesday petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to send the agency back to the drawing board.

"We are asking the court to rule that PHMSA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner," attorney Richard Streeter said.

"A key error was to allow the indefinite use of DOT-111 tank cars to transport highly flammable hazmat in ordinary trains that contain a limited number of tank cars."

The Federal Railroad Administration called the changes a positive step.

"This retrofitting schedule is aggressive, but DOT believes this is an achievable schedule that balances the industry's abilities, while enhancing the safe transport of energy products as rapidly as possible," a spokesman said.

Barrington and Aurora, which are crisscrossed by various freight lines, have teamed up before on rail safety issues.

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