'Spray-Painted' Oil, Refiner Ditches Old Rail Cars, and More Oil-by-Train News

Senate lawmakers will have plenty to talk about next week when they gather to examine the risks of shipping oil on railways. Here are some new developments and stories:

The refining company Tesoro is replacing the last of its older rail cars with models that have the latest safety designs, Reuters reports.

The Houston Chronicle looks at a new report that says regulatory delays are hindering pipeline construction, which encourages oil producers to ship more of their product by train.

The expanding use of rail cars to move crude oil has come under intense scrutiny following a string of accidents.

There was another mishap this week. Salon reports on an oil train that sprung a leak while traveling through Minnesota, spilling 12,000 gallons over a 68-mile stretch of track.

"It's like it spray-painted oil," said a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

But that accident was minor compared with some others, including a horrific derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec last year. There have also been several U.S. accidents involving trains carrying oil, a practice that's growing fast amid surging domestic production.

The public radio program Marketplace has a feature about the topic, reporting that the accident in Quebec "served as a wake-up call to a lot of communities living close to railroad tracks, who suddenly realized that was crude oil rolling by in tanker."

"As oil trains have had more accidents, and governments are examining the safety of rail oil shipments, some local residents are applying the brakes on what they see as a dangerous rush to move oil by train," the program reports.