US DOT issues Bakken crude rail transport emergency order

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an emergency order requiring all railroads operating trains containing large amounts of Bakken crude oil to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) about the operation of these trains through their states. Effective immediately, the emergency order (Docket Number DOT-OST-2014-0067) requires each railroad operating trains containing more than 1 million gal of Bakken crude oil (roughly 35 tank cars) in a particular state to provide the appropriate SERC with notification regarding their expected movement through that state’s counties.

The notification must include estimated volumes of Bakken crude oil being transported, frequencies of anticipated train traffic, and the route through which Bakken crude will be transported. The emergency order also requires railroads provide contact information for at least one responsible party at the host railroads to the SERC. The emergency order advises railroads to assist the SERC as necessary to share the information with the appropriate emergency responders in affected communities.

DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also issued a safety advisory (Number 2014-01) strongly urging those shipping or offering Bakken crude oil to use tank car designs with the highest level of integrity available in their fleets and, to the extent possible, to avoid the use of older legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars for shipment of Bakken crude oil.

A train carrying crude oil derailed last week in Lynchburg, Va., setting three cars on fire. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported, although some businesses and residents nearby were evacuated, CSX Transportation said (OGJ Online, Apr. 30, 2014).

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