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Railroads rack up $15 million in 2016 penalties

🕐 2 min read

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on an agreement with federal regulators that calls for Union Pacific Railroad to conduct more thorough inspections following hundreds of safety violations and a fiery Oregon derailment. (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

The Transportation Department says it assessed more than $15 million in civil penalties against the U.S. railroad industry this year for safety violations and other infractions, a slight increase over 2015.

Friday’s announcement came as Union Pacific, the nation’s largest freight railroad, agreed to improve safety on lines used to haul crude oil following a fiery June derailment in Oregon.

There have been at least 27 oil train accidents across North America over the past decade. A 2013 wreck and explosion killed 47 people in Quebec.

Of the major railroads, BNSF Railway racked up the most penalties in 2016, totaling $3.4 million. Union Pacific had $3 million in penalties from more than 1,000 violations.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement that the Federal Railroad Administration’s enforcement program helps prevent needless accidents and deaths.

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8:30 a.m.

A spokeswoman says the nation’s largest railroad has addressed more than 800 potential safety violations found by federal railroad inspectors on lines used to haul crude oil and other hazardous materials.

Union Pacific Railroad and the Federal Railroad Administration confirmed Friday that they’d reached an agreement intended to improve track safety by requiring more thorough inspections.

Details were obtained by The Associated Press.

The agreement comes after a Union Pacific train hauling tankers filled with North Dakota crude oil derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, sparking a massive fire.

Investigators say the June 3 accident was preventable with better inspections.

Railroad spokeswoman Calli Hite says Union Pacific is committed to making its lines safer. She says it has fixed problems that were identified by the government as potential violations.

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7:00 a.m.

The nation’s largest railroad has agreed to more thorough inspections and maintenance improvements after a fiery derailment and the discovery of more than 800 potential safety violations across its sprawling network.

Details on the agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration and Union Pacific Railroad were obtained by The Associated Press.

A Union Pacific train hauling crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge derailed in June near Mosier, Oregon, sparking a massive fire that burned for 14 hours.

Investigators concluded routine inspections should have caught a series of broken bolts that allowed the rails near Mosier to widen.

It was one of more than two dozen oil train accidents over the past decade across North America. The worst killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013.

Representatives of Union Pacific Railroad did not have an immediate comment on the agreement.

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