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Oil terminal commits to safer rail cars

The owner of an oil terminal in Clatskanie says it will only accept crude oil from rail cars built to a certain safety standard starting June 1.

Global Partners says it will no longer accept rail cars built to the older DOT-111 standard at any of its oil terminals, including the one on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The DOT-111 rail cars are controversial because they have fewer safety requirements than the newer CPC-1232 cars, which Global Partners says will be the only cars it uses.

The DOT-111 rail cars are still widely used to transport volatile crude oil across the country. They’ve been involved in numerous accidents including an explosion Wednesday in Virginia.

The CPC-1232 standards added requirements for a thicker, more puncture-resistant tank shell, as well as leak prevention and rollover protection features. But they only applies to rail cars ordered since October 2011.

In a news release, Global Partners President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Slifka says the commitment to the safer rail cars will extend to all crude oil delivered to all of the company’s oil terminals “regardless of whether they are operated by a third party or leased by Global.”

“Global is committed to safety, and as part of that commitment we have made the proactive decision to begin only accepting crude oil unit trains consisting entirely of CPC 1232-compliant cars,” he says. “We continue to work closely with our employees, customers and railroads, as well as federal and state agencies and local communities, to ensure the safe, reliable handling of energy products throughout our network.”

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber released a statement applauding the company’s decision. He also called on the federal government to phase out “unsafe and outdated” rail cars.

“I appreciate the commitment to safety Global Partners is showing to its neighbors in northwest Oregon,” Kitzhaber says. “Rail operators, shippers, and facility owners have an obligation to take every measure possible to ensure hazardous materials they transport and receive are shipped as safely as possible.”

The company’s announcement comes one day after an oil train briefing in Portland where state legislators, local government officials, and congressional staff met with local, state and federal agencies and railroad companies to discuss rail safety in

Oregon.