State tells railroads to revise oil disaster plans

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the oil train disaster prevention and response plans that five railroads submitted nearly four months ago are not fully compliant with state requirements.

The agency sent letters to the BNSF, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific and Twin Cities and Western railroads this week detailing the shortcomings in the plans. It also set a Nov. 10 deadline for the railroads to submit revised versions.

The reporting requirements were part of legislation enacted in 2014.

MPCA officials said all five railroads failed to provide sufficient information about the personnel and equipment they would use in response to an oil train discharge. Four of the five fell short in providing information on facilities and the quantity and type of hazardous material transported.

The agency asked the Twin Cities and Western Railroad to provide a description of a “worst case” scenario, which is a specific requirement of the state law.

Despite the omissions, MPCA officials said in a summary review that they believe the railroad industry is prepared to respond to a worst case discharge. They said the majority of the omissions “would be considered administrative in nature.”