Posts Tagged ‘crude oil’

DOT Takes Action on Movement of Energy Products

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.

Actions

  • Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
  • Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
    • PHMSA is issuing a safety advisory reminding carriers and shippers of the specific types of information (*listed below) that they must make immediately available to emergency responders;
    • FRA and PHMSA are issuing a joint safety advisory requesting that specific information (*listed below) also be made readily available to investigators;
    • FRA is sending a request to the Association of American Railroads asking the industry to develop a formal process by which this specific information (*listed below) becomes available to both emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator, and;
    • FRA submitted to the Federal Register a notice proposing to expand the information collected on certain required accident reports, so that information specific to accidents involving trains transporting crude oil is reported.
  • DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

“Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.”

The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

*Information required by PHMSA Safety Advisory:

  • Basic description and technical name of the hazardous material the immediate hazard to health;
  • Risks of fire or explosion;
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident;
  • Immediate methods for handling fires;
  • Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire;
  • Preliminary first aid measures; and
  • 24-hour telephone number for immediate access to product information.

*Information sought by U.S. DOT in the event of a crude-by-rail accident: 

  • Information on the train consist, including the train number, locomotive(s), locomotives as distributed power, end-of-train device information, number and position of tank cars in the train, tank car reporting marks, and the tank car specifications and relevant attributes of the tank cars in the train.
  • Waybill (origin and destination) information
  • The Safety Data Sheet(s) or any other documents used to provide comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information for Class 3 flammable liquids
  • Results of any product testing undertaken prior to transportation that was used to properly characterize the Class 3 flammable liquids for transportation (initial testing)
  • Results from any analysis of product sample(s) (taken prior to being offered into transportation) from tank car(s) involved in the derailment
  • Date of acceptance as required to be noted on shipping papers under 49 CFR § 174.24.
  • If a refined flammable liquid is involved, the type of liquid and the name and location of the company extracting the material
  • The identification of the company having initial testing performed (sampling and analysis of material) and information on the lab (if external) conducting the analysis.
  • Name and location of the company transporting the material from well head to loading facility or terminal.
  • Name and location of the company that owns and that operates the terminal or loading facility that loaded the product for rail transportation.
  • Name of the Railroad(s) handling the tank car(s) at any time from point of origin to destination and a timeline of handling changes between railroads.

Since 2013 there have been 23 crude-related train accidents in the United States with the majority of incidents occurring without the release of any crude oil product.

 

DOT takes action on movement of energy products

DOT_Logo_150px

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids. 

Actions 

  • Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
  • Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
    • PHMSA is issuing a safety advisory reminding carriers and shippers of the specific types of information (*listed below) that they must make immediately available to emergency responders;
    • FRA and PHMSA are issuing a joint safety advisory requesting that specific information (*listed below) also be made readily available to investigators;
    • FRA is sending a request to the Association of American Railroads asking the industry to develop a formal process by which this specific information (*listed below) becomes available to both emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator, and;
    • FRA submitted to the Federal Register a notice proposing to expand the information collected on certain required accident reports, so that information specific to accidents involving trains transporting crude oil is reported.
  • DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

“Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.”

The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

*Information required by PHMSA Safety Advisory:

  • Basic description and technical name of the hazardous material the immediate hazard to health;
  • Risks of fire or explosion;
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident;
  • Immediate methods for handling fires;
  • Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire;
  • Preliminary first aid measures; and
  • 24-hour telephone number for immediate access to product information.

*Information sought by U.S. DOT in the event of a crude-by-rail accident: 

  • Information on the train consist, including the train number, locomotive(s), locomotives as distributed power, end-of-train device information, number and position of tank cars in the train, tank car reporting marks, and the tank car specifications and relevant attributes of the tank cars in the train.
  • Waybill (origin and destination) information
  • The Safety Data Sheet(s) or any other documents used to provide comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information for Class 3 flammable liquids
  • Results of any product testing undertaken prior to transportation that was used to properly characterize the Class 3 flammable liquids for transportation (initial testing)
  • Results from any analysis of product sample(s) (taken prior to being offered into transportation) from tank car(s) involved in the derailment
  • Date of acceptance as required to be noted on shipping papers under 49 CFR § 174.24.
  • If a refined flammable liquid is involved, the type of liquid and the name and location of the company extracting the material
  • The identification of the company having initial testing performed (sampling and analysis of material) and information on the lab (if external) conducting the analysis.
  • Name and location of the company transporting the material from well head to loading facility or terminal.
  • Name and location of the company that owns and that operates the terminal or loading facility that loaded the product for rail transportation.
  • Name of the Railroad(s) handling the tank car(s) at any time from point of origin to destination and a timeline of handling changes between railroads.

Since 2013 there have been 23 crude-related train accidents in the United States with the majority of incidents occurring without the release of any crude oil product.

House bill would regulate crude oil by rail

oil-train-railA second group of federal lawmakers has introduced legislation to regulate the transport of crude oil by rail.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) April 15 introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act (H.R. 1804), which the congressman said would set new safety and security standards to address growing concerns that current standards fail to address the threat posed by transporting crude oil by rail.

Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.

BNSF adds new safety rules for crude oil trains

oil-train-railOMAHA – BNSF Railway Co. has started taking additional safety measures for crude oil shipments because of four recent high-profile derailments in the U.S. and Canada, the railroad said Monday.

Under the changes, BNSF is slowing down crude oil trains to 35 mph in cities with more than 100,000 people and increasing track inspections near waterways. The Fort Worth, Texas, based railroad also is stepping up efforts to find and repair defective wheels before they can cause derailments.

Read the complete story at Omaha.com.

Sen. Franken asks FRA to reroute Minn. oil trains

oil-train-railWASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Sen. Al Franken asked the Federal Railroad Administration to consider rerouting trains carrying volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota so they do not pass through Minnesota’s biggest cities.

For Franken, the possibility of rerouting is an integral part of a comprehensive response to a recent rash of fiery oil train derailments that also includes stabilizing Bakken crude before it is loaded into stronger tanker cars.

Read the complete story at Marcellus.com.

BNSF faces penalty on hazmat spill reporting rules

washington_stateOLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state rail safety regulators March 19 recommended BNSF Railway Company be penalized for failing to timely report multiple hazardous material spills along state railways.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) issued the formal complaint following a staff investigation into BNSF’s failure to report 14 releases of various hazardous materials, including crude oil, to the state within the required time period.

State rail safety rules require railroads to make a telephone report of the release of a hazardous material within 30 minutes of learning of the incident to the Washington State Emergency Operations Center’s (EOC) 24-hour duty officer.

The commission staff investigation found that between Nov. 1, 2014, and Feb. 24, 2015, BNSF committed 700 violations of this reporting requirement. Under state law, each day the company fails to report an incident constitutes a separate and distinct violation. The commission has the authority to impose penalties of up to $1,000 per violation, per day of state law or rule.

When a company fails to notify the EOC that a hazardous material incident has occurred, critical response resources may not be deployed, causing potential harm to the public and the environment. There could also be a delay in response and containment resources necessary to clean up hazardous material spills.

The violations were recorded as a result of the following incidents:

  • Nov. 5, 2014, Blaine – BP Cherry Point facility – crude oil spillage on tank
  • Nov. 17, 2014, Pasco – Pasco grain yard – 18-inch streak of diesel fuel on tank car
  • Dec. 7, 2014, Wenatchee – BNSF Wenatchee/Apple yard – hazardous solid waste dripping in rail yard
  • Dec. 8, 2014, Spokane Valley – BNSF Trentwood Station – tank car dripping gas/oil from bottom valve
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Seattle – Balmer Railyard/Interbay – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Everett – BNSF Everett/Delta yard – two instances of shipments of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Vancouver, BNSF Vancouver yard – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 10, 2014, Everett BNSF Everett/Delta yard – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 13, 2014, Quincy – Columbia subdivision – locomotive fire released 100 gallons of lube oil onto tracks
  • Jan. 12, 2015, Vancouver – BNSF Vancouver yard – seven tank cars found leaking crude oil
  • Jan. 13, 2015, Auburn – BNSF Auburn yard – six tank cars found leaking crude oil
  • Jan. 25, 2015, Seattle – BNSF Interbay yard – one BNSF locomotive mechanical problem spilled 100 gallons of lube oil
  • Feb. 12, 2015, Seattle – South Seattle storage facility – UTC inspector found crude oil leaking down the side of a tank car

In October 2014, commission staff sent BNSF a copy of the reporting requirements, and provided the company technical assistance to ensure that BNSF was providing proper notification to the commission regarding hazardous material incidents.

Staff also sent a letter to the regulated railroad industry on Feb. 4, 2015, emphasizing the requirement to provide reports and telephone the EOC within 30 minutes of learning of an event involving fatalities or injuries, the release of hazardous materials, or property damage greater than $50,000.

The companies were informed that failure to provide the required reports is a violation of commission rules and that staff may recommend enforcement action or monetary penalties for companies that fail to report incidents as required.

The company has an opportunity to request a hearing to respond to the allegations.

Oil industry must join railroads to boost train safety

oil-train-railWASHINGTON – Rail operators are going to great lengths to prevent oil train derailments but the energy sector must do more to prevent accidents from becoming fiery disasters, the leading U.S. rail regulator said on Friday (March 13).

Oil train tankers have jumped the tracks in a string of mishaps in recent months that resulted in explosions and fires.

Read the complete story at The Jamestown Sun.

Dangerous trains, aging rails

A CSX freight train ran off the rails last month in rural Mount Carbon, W.Va. One after another, exploding rail cars sent hellish fireballs hundreds of feet into the clear winter sky. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency, and the fires burned for several days.

The Feb. 16 accident was one of a series of recent fiery derailments highlighting the danger of using freight trains to ship crude oil from wellheads in North Dakota to refineries in congested regions along America’s coastlines. The most recent was last week, when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe oil train with roughly 100 cars derailed, causing at least two cars, each with about 30,000 gallons of crude oil, to explode, burn and leak near the Mississippi River, south of Galena, Ill.

Read the complete story at The New York Times.

Ill. oil train derailment threatens Mississippi River

oil-train-railAn oil train derailment and spill in northwest Illinois poses an “imminent and substantial danger” of contaminating the Mississippi River, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Saturday.

The spill from the derailment, which occurred Thursday, also threatens the Galena River, a tributary of the Mississippi, and the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, one of the most complex ecosystems in North America.

Read the complete story at the Los Angeles Times.

Train carrying crude oil derails in Illinois

oil-train-railA freight train loaded with crude oil derailed in northern Illinois on Thursday, bursting into flames and prompting officials to suggest that everyone with 1 mile evacuate, authorities said.

The BNSF Railway train derailed around 1:05 p.m. in a rural area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi, according to company spokesman Andy Williams. The train had 103 cars loaded with crude oil, along with two buffer cars loaded with sand. A cause for the derailment hadn’t yet been determined. No injuries were reported.

Read the complete story at ABC News.

Who’s to blame for the exploding oil trains?

oil-train-railA week after a CSX train hauling crude oil derailed and exploded 30 miles southeast of Charleston, W. Va., on Feb. 16, its mangled, charred tank cars were still being hauled from the crash site. Of the 27 cars that derailed, 19 had been engulfed in flames.

The wreckage burned for almost three days. “It’s amazing no one was killed,” says John Whitt, whose home is one of a handful clustered near the crash site, along the banks of the Kanawha River. Some were within 30 yards of the site. One home was destroyed.

Raed the complete story at Bloomberg News.

Oil train wrecks increase pressure for tougher rules

oil-train-railFiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.

On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger tank cars and make other safety improvements.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.