The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has issued an emergency order (EO) for rail transportation of Bakken crude oil, as part of a comprehensive strategy to keep oil shipments safe.
The order comes after Canada Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced a decision to phase out the 5,000 least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars in the country.
As per the EO, all railways that are operating trains containing more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil, or 35 tank cars, must notify state emergency response commissions (SERCs) about the operation of these trains through their states.
The notification must include the estimated volumes of crude oil being transported, the frequencies of anticipated train traffic and the route through which the oil will be transported.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "The safety of our nation’s railway system and the people who live along rail corridors is of paramount concern.
"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."
DOT’s federal railroad administration (FRA) and pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration (PHMSA) have also issued a safety advisory to the rail industry, recommending the use of tank car designs with the highest level of integrity in their fleet when transporting Bakken crude oil.
In addition, PHMSA and FRA have advised carriers to avoid the use of older legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars for transporting Bakken crude oil.
Image: DoT-111 tank car. Photo: courtesy of Harvey Henkelmann.