The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has release an emergency order, or safety advisory, making rail crude oil tests mandatory for all shippers from the Bakken, a region stretching through North Dakota and Montana, US.
The DOT’s emergency order is intended to ensure transport of properly classified crude oil by rail and reduce risks. It also seeks to restrict shipping of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.
All Class III crude oil shipments must be designated as packing group I or II, and transport of a lower risk designation. Packing group III will be restricted until further notice.
The order is the fourth in the last seven months and serves as a response to recent derailments that involved transport of crude oil by trains from the Bakken region.
Concerns over proper classification of crude oil are currently under investigation as part of the ‘Bakken Blitz’.
DOT secretary Anthony Foxx said: "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.
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"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."
DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are currently engaged in the ongoing rulemaking to improve the design of the DOT 111 tank car.
In order to ensure safe transport of crude oil by rail, PHMSA and FRA are also involved in conducting activities such as unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic locations that service crude oil.