bakken crude oil

DOT Issues Emergency Order for Trains Carrying Bakken Crude Oil

The order requires railroads transporting crude oil to notify SERCs about the operation of trains through their states if the trains carry more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil, or approximately 35 tank cars.

DOT has issued an Emergency Order requiring trains carrying large amounts of crude oil from the Bakken region to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) of their trains' operation through their states, if the trains are carrying more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude, or about 35 tank cars. The Emergency Order is part of DOT's larger initiative to keep Bakken crude oil shipments safe.

The order (Docket Number DOT-OST-2014-0067) is effective immediately and requires that each railroad operating trains that contain more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude to notify each SERC of their trains' expected movement throughout the state. This notification, according to DOT, must include estimated volumes of Bakken crude oil, frequency of anticipated train traffic, and the route the train is taking. In addition, the railroad must provide contact information for "at least one responsible party at the host railroads to the SERCs."

The Association of American Railroads posted this statement in response to the order: "Freight railroads have for years worked with emergency responders and personnel to educate and inform them about the hazardous materials moving through their communities. These open and transparent communications will continue as railroads do all they can to comply with the Department of Transportation's Emergency Order."

In addition to the Emergency Order, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued Safety Advisory Number 2014-0 that urges those shipping Bakken crude oil to use tank cars that are designed with the highest level of integrity, and they advise carriers to avoid using the older, legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars.

"The safety of our nation's railroad system and the people who live along rail corridors is of paramount concern," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in DOT's news release. "All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil, and today's actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars."

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