Sen. Cantwell calls for stricter safety measures for oil trains

SEATTLE -- Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and several other politicians are pushing for new legislation to increase safety for oil trains.

The legislation, called The Crude By Rail Safety Act of 2015, would require tankers with thermal protection and thicker shells.  It calls for the older tankers, called DOT 111s, to be pulled out of service immediately because it is prone to puncture easily in derailments.

It would also provide $40 million in training programs and grants to communities to update emergency response plans. The legislation requires rail companies to come up its own disaster plans and provide state and local officials about shipments.

BNSF says it has trained nearly 2,000 first responders in Washington state and has teams ready to jump into action in case of emergency.

In July 2013,  people were killed in Quebec when a Bakkan oil train derailed and exploded. Last July, a train carrying 28,000 gallons of oil derailed in Seattle.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and no oil spilled.

Local officials in Seattle also worry about a derailment in the King Street Tunnel.  BNSF says it has spent $10 million upgrading the tunnel and the rail line -- saying if a disaster occurs they would be ready to respond.

Cantwell also calls for limiting volatile components of crude oil such as propane, butane and ethane.