DOT Issues Emergency Order for Bakken Crude's Rail Transportation

The emergency order requires shippers to test oil from the Bakken region to ensure proper classification before it is shipped by rail.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring parties shipping oil from North Dakota's Bakken region to test it in order to ensure it is properly classified. This is the fourth emergency order or safety advisory to be given regarding crude oil during the past seven months alone.

This order also prohibits classifying crude oil that will be transported in the lowest-strength packing group, Packing Group III.

DOT pointed out that emergency orders are given to protect both the public and the environment "from the likelihood of substantial harm created by an imminent hazard." The latest ones were issued after several derailments involving trains that were transporting oil from the Bakken region. Improper classification can lead to substances being transported in the wrong containers, which can lead to spills and improper protocol, according to DOT.

"Today we are raising the bar for shipping crude oil on behalf of the families and communities along rail lines nationwide —if you intend to move crude oil by rail, then you must test and classify the material appropriately. And when you do ship it, you must follow the requirements for the two strongest safety packing groups. From emergency orders to voluntary agreements, we are using every tool at our disposal to ensure the safe transportation of crude oil," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

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