On May 7, 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Emergency Order that requires railroads transporting more than 1,000,000 gallons of crude (equivalent to approximately 35 tank cars) to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) of expected movement of the train fleet through counties of the state. The notification is required to include Bakken crude volume estimates, the frequency of shipments, and the route of the train.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a Safety Advisory on May 7, 2014 urging shippers and rail carriers of Bakken crude oil to use tank car designs with “the highest level of integrity” available in their fleets. The advisory encourages shippers and carriers to avoid use of older legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars for Bakken crude shipment “to the extent reasonably practicable.”
On February 25, 2014 the DOT issued an Emergency Restriction/Prohibition Order governing petroleum crude oil transportation. The order requires action to eliminate or abate an “imminent hazard,” by mandating:
The order included a series of pre-transportation testing requirements to determine petroleum crude oil’s flash point, boiling point, corrosivity to steel and aluminum, percentage presence of flammable gases, vapor pressure at 50°C and the presence and content of compounds such as sulfur/hydrogen sulfide.
AFPM President, Charles Drevna, sent a letter to DOT Secretary, Anthony Foxx, seeking a modification to the Emergency Order, calling for the Department to modify the Order to allow shipping to continue to allow for companies to conduct the tests called for in the emergency order.
In response to AFPM’s request, DOT amended and restated the Emergency Restriction Prohibition Order on March 6, 2014 (DOT-OST-2014-0025). The DOT clarifies that shippers with “knowledge and experience” of the crude they ship need only to test for flashpoint and boiling point to determine Packing Group (PG). Further, they noted that extra tests would be permissive and recommended rather than mandatory. The amended order explains that the Order only applies to bulk quantities in rail tank cars. It also indicated that shippers who offered crude previously classified as NA 1993, class 3 flammable, PG III would be allowed to continue transporting the crude under that proper shipping name, but that all other crude must be shipped as PG I or PG II.
On August 2, 2013, the FRA issued an Emergency Order in response to the July 6, 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. The Order established additional requirements for attendance and securement of certain freight trains and vehicles on mainline track or mainline siding outside of a yard terminal. The notice prohibits trains with hazardous materials to be left unattended without FRA approved programs in place for securing the locomotive. Additionally, employees responsible for trains transporting said materials must inform train dispatchers of the number of hand brakes applied, the length of the train or vehicle, any relevant weather conditions and of any terrain features of the track. Train dispatchers must record the information provided and verify that the information meets the railroad’s requirements. Employees are also required to participate in daily briefings prior to train securement and must ensure that all equipment inspected by emergency responders.
PHMSA and the FRA released a Safety Advisory in addition to Emergency Order No. 28 on August 2, 2013. The Advisory discusses the circumstances of the Lac-Mégantic train incident and makes two recommendations regarding classifications of crude oil. The first recommendation requires that offerors of hazardous materials properly classify and describe their product. In the case of Petroleum crude oil, the advisory calls for identification of flash point, corrosivity, specific gravity at loading and reference temperatures, and presence of compounds such as sulfur. These requirements were subsequently reflected in February 2014’s Emergency Order. The second recommendation applies to safety and security plans for transportation of certain hazardous materials. The DOT suggests that offerors and carriers review the transport and packaging of any hazardous materials to evaluate whether existing plans address known or potential safety and security risks and amend them accordingly. The Advisory also announced the FRA’s intention to hold an Emergency Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) Meeting, held on August 29, 2013.
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