Safety was on my mind when, yesterday, I went up to Capitol Hill to speak before the Senate Commerce Committee. My testimony came one week to the very hour after a train carrying crude oil derailed near downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. The crash sent oil spilling into the James River, and ignited flames on the banks of that river, causing the evacuation of a 20-block area.
As I told committee members, we’re very fortunate no one was killed, let alone hurt.
I also told them about two steps we took earlier yesterday to make transporting oil by rail safer: a Safety Advisory, strongly urging those shipping or offering Bakken crude oil to use tank car designs with the highest level of integrity available in their fleets, and an Emergency Order requiring shippers and energy companies to identify the routes Bakken crude oil is traveling and to notify state emergency responders so they can work with communities along those routes to prepare local police and fire departments.
These are strong steps towards fulfilling our mission at DOT, which is protecting the American public.
And they build on our past efforts including earlier emergency orders, safety advisories, and special inspections. We've also brought together railroad companies to reach agreement on a series of immediate actions they can take to improve safety including reducing speeds, increasing inspections, using new brake technology and investing in first responder training.
Additionally, we have sent a comprehensive rulemaking package regarding the safe transportation of crude oil to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and have launched Operation Classification in the Bakken region to verify that crude oil is being properly classified.
Over the next generation, our population will grow, our economy will grow, and we will have to move more energy. At DOT we're putting all options on the table to make sure that energy moves safely.