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Rail News: Safety

Latest tank car, rail inspections in New York turn up 62 defects


Another round of targeted tank car and rail inspections in New York found 62 defects, including one "critical" safety defect that required immediate corrective action, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

The inspections are part of the governor’s efforts to address the safety of crude-by-rail shipments. State and federal teams examined 524 tank cars and about 152 miles of track and 38 switches during the inspections.

Last week, inspection teams from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) inspected tank cars at Canadian Pacific's Kenwood Yard in Albany, CSX Transportation's Selkirk Yard in Albany County and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad's D&E Yard in Buffalo. They also inspected various CP and CSX mainlines.

The inspections focused on track, track hardware and tank car mechanical safety equipment, including wheels and brakes. The teams also performed hazardous materials inspections to ensure that equipment met regulations, including valves, valve closures, and placards that describe the cargo being shipped, and checked tank-car inspection and pressure test dates.

A critical defect was identified on a CSX mainline between Milton and Selkirk — a missing bolt on a continuously-welded rail joint — which was repaired immediately, state officials said in a press release. Inspectors also found one non-critical defect, a loose switch rod bolt. Critical defects identify important maintenance issues that must be addressed immediately, while non-critical rail defects must be repaired within 30 days.

Other non-critical track defects found during inspections included missing rail anchors and loose rail braces, loose or missing switch rod bolts, fouled ballast and insufficient fasteners. Non-critical tank-car defects included thin brake shoes, defective air hoses and hose valves, shelled wheels, defective knuckle pins and broken brake cylinder components.

"The number of safety defects detected in the latest round of crude oil inspections shows that our administration's efforts are making a difference when it comes to keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Cuomo. "We will continue to conduct this aggressive regimen of rail inspections and work with our partners to hold crude oil transporters to highest possible safety standards and protect our communities from potential emergencies."

Since the targeted inspections began in February 2014, NYSDOT and FRA teams have inspected 10,370 rail cars (including 8,362 tank cars) and 3,386 miles of track, found 1,279 defects and issued 20 hazardous materials violations.

"Our transportation network relies on rail to move freight and people quickly and safely across New York State. It is crucial that our rail infrastructure is kept in safe working order," said NYSDOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll.