WASHINGTON — Today, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), testified before the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) forum on Rail Safety: Transportation of Crude Oil and Ethanol. In his testimony, Dinneen focuses on the safety record of ethanol shipments via the DOT-111A railcar, the intense focus of the RFA on safety training and best practices within the ethanol industry, and the need for the NTSB to focus on the root cause of recent derailments, track conditions and human error, and not exclusively on railcar design.
Dinneen explained, “… trains have historically served as an economical and efficient ‘virtual pipeline’ for ethanol.” Seventy percent of ethanol travels to the marketplace via rail and has done so for over 30 years. Dinneen gave credit to the railroads that since 2012 have successfully shipped 99.997 percent of hazardous material carloads, noting that with more than 2 million railcar shipments of ethanol since 2006, only 91 derailed and released product.
The focal point of Dinneen’s testimony centered on the need to focus on the root causes of derailments. “In evaluating past ethanol derailment incidents, the NTSB has each time determined the derailment to be the result of rail operation. The major causes of the incidents were substandard track integrity, switching failures, inspection errors, maintenance problems or lack of communication between train crews … These root causes will not be addressed by the rulemaking effort for the DOT 111A railcar.
“Keeping the cars on the track by eliminating the root causes of these DOT-111A tank car derailments is the only way to achieve a perfect safety record.”
RFA’s full testimony including specific recommendations is available here.
The PowerPoint accompanying the testimony is available here.