Today’s action marks the 4th emergency order or safety advisory on crude oil in the last seven months
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) today issued an Emergency Order requiring all shippers to test product from the Bakken region to ensure the proper classification of crude oil before it is transported by rail, while also prohibiting the transportation of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.
Emergency orders are issued to protect the public and environment from the likelihood of substantial harm created by an imminent hazard. Today’s Emergency Order, the fourth from DOT in less than a year, was issued in response to recent derailments involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region and out of concerns over proper classification that are currently under investigation as part of Operation Classification, also known as the “Bakken Blitz.”
Shipments of crude-by-rail must be properly tested and classified according to regulations already in place. There is a reminder in the Order that you must evaluate every hazardous material for all 9 hazard classes (i.e, corrosive, toxic, etc.)
HOWEVER ALL CLASS 3 (Flammable Liquid) CRUDE OIL MUST BE SHIPPED AS PGI OR PGII ONLY! PGIII Crude oil shipments will not be accepted into transportation until further notice. (Packing Groups ("PG") describe the relative danger of a hazardous material, with PGI being the most dangerous while PGIII is the least dangerous of the specific class of hazmats)
PHMSA will be in Minot, ND this week conducting a classification workshop at the 60th Annual State Fire School sponsored by the ND Firefighters Association; the class will include using the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) and will cover hazmat response.
PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration have issued several safety advisories related to the safe transport of crude oil by rail, including the recent January 2 Safety Alert and is currently engaged in the ongoing rulemaking to improve the design of the DOT 111 tank car.
In August 2013, PHMSA and FRA launched Operation Classification in the Bakken Shale region to verify that crude oil was being properly classified and announced the first proposed fines associated with that ongoing investigation last month. Additional activities include unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic locations that service crude oil.
PHMSA has withdrawn its proposal for additional regulations associated with cargo tank motor vehicle (CTMV) loading or unloading operations. This action is based on the findings of the regulatory assessment, comments to docket of this rulemaking, and completion of a supplementary policy analysis on how best to address the safety risks of bulk loading and unloading operations. As an alternative to new regulatory requirements, PHMSA will be issuing a guidance document to provide best practices for CTMV loading and unloading operations; and will be conducting research to better understand the wide range of human factors that contribute to hazardous materials incidents including those associated with CTMV loading and unloading operations.
This week several refiners and a tank car manufacuter have announced they will no longer accept older-style tank cars for crude oil service, meaning those pre-CPC 1232 (Oct. 2011).
Irving Oil, PBF Energy, and Tesoro Refinery (as well as CP and CN Railways -see related post in STARS HazMat Alerts "In The News ") have all opted to no longer allow the use of DOT111 tank cars after specific dates later this year and have taken steps to ensure that their entire crude oil fleets are made up exclusively CPC 1232-compliant cars.
See NBC Article here. See CBC article here.
US railroads likely will agree to reduced speed limits when carrying crude in populated areas and increased inspections under a forthcoming pact with the Department of Transportation to boost the safety of crude-by-rail shipments, the head of the Association of American Railroads said Wednesday.
They are also likely agree to distributed power on crude oil unit trains, meaning locomotives or end-of-train devices that are capable of applying braking power on both ends of the train to reduce the stopping time. Agreements to increase inspections of crude shipments is expected as well.
When talking about the anticipated upgrades to tank cars, both Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, and Bob Greco, the API's group director of downstream and industry operations indicated that they are most concerned with "keep[ing] the damn trains on the tracks," and felt that addressing the root cause of derailments should be at garner at least equal attention.
See article here.
Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways have both announced this week that they will be issuing surcharges for any crude oil tank car which does not meet the AAR CPC 1232 (pre-October 2011). This is a special standard which applies specifically to tank cars carrying crude oil and 3 other commodities.
CP Rail will add a $325 “general service tank car safety surcharge” on each car of crude that is shipped in any container other than the CPC 1232 model, effective March 14, 2014.
See article here.
Judge ripped up a Nebraska state law today that would have allowed the Governor to force landowners to allow the pipeline on their property. Unless this is overturned by a higher court, the ruling may put the project on hold indefinitely because the pipeline builder, TransCanada Corp., might be forced to seek permission from every single landowner on the route.
See article here.