Today’s action marks the 4th emergency order or safety advisory on crude oil in the last seven months
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) today issued an Emergency Order requiring all shippers to test product from the Bakken region to ensure the proper classification of crude oil before it is transported by rail, while also prohibiting the transportation of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.
Emergency orders are issued to protect the public and environment from the likelihood of substantial harm created by an imminent hazard. Today’s Emergency Order, the fourth from DOT in less than a year, was issued in response to recent derailments involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region and out of concerns over proper classification that are currently under investigation as part of Operation Classification, also known as the “Bakken Blitz.”
Shipments of crude-by-rail must be properly tested and classified according to regulations already in place. There is a reminder in the Order that you must evaluate every hazardous material for all 9 hazard classes (i.e, corrosive, toxic, etc.)
HOWEVER ALL CLASS 3 (Flammable Liquid) CRUDE OIL MUST BE SHIPPED AS PGI OR PGII ONLY! PGIII Crude oil shipments will not be accepted into transportation until further notice. (Packing Groups ("PG") describe the relative danger of a hazardous material, with PGI being the most dangerous while PGIII is the least dangerous of the specific class of hazmats)
PHMSA will be in Minot, ND this week conducting a classification workshop at the 60th Annual State Fire School sponsored by the ND Firefighters Association; the class will include using the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) and will cover hazmat response.
PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration have issued several safety advisories related to the safe transport of crude oil by rail, including the recent January 2 Safety Alert and is currently engaged in the ongoing rulemaking to improve the design of the DOT 111 tank car.
In August 2013, PHMSA and FRA launched Operation Classification in the Bakken Shale region to verify that crude oil was being properly classified and announced the first proposed fines associated with that ongoing investigation last month. Additional activities include unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic locations that service crude oil.