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Mon Mar 9, 2015, 08:50 AM

Oil Train Safety Megathread. Updated March 24, 2020

Last edited Tue Mar 24, 2020, 06:31 AM - Edit history (90)

I'll be storing links to news articles, industry developments, regulatory agencies, and so forth here. Also look for threads or replies at DU with these titles.

Full disclosure: I own shares of rail stocks. I am posting solely to help people find information and not out of any financial interest.

Previous updates: August 14, 2019; April 9, 2019; March 26, 2019; February 15, 2019; September 24, 2018; November 11, 2017; July 5, 2017.

BNSF, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Warren Buffett, NS, Norfolk Southern, CSX, CN, Canadian National, CP, Canadian Pacific, Bakken, Shale, derail, derailed, derailment, DOT-111, CPC-1232, tank car, tankcar, railroad, train, FRA, Federal Railroad Administration, Transport Canada, Minister of Transport, NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board, PHMSA, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Department of Transportation, DOT, oil by rail, crude by rail, CBR, oil train safety, Ted Mann, megathread, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, ECP, National Energy Board, NEB.

Google News for "rail safety"

Google News for "railroad safety"

[font color="red"]Added, 02-11-2016:[/font] I'd prefer not to link to a partisan website, but this one does link to more articles in newspapers and trade journals than I can keep up with:

The DOT-111 Reader, Rail News

-- -- -- -- -- --

WAMU = WAMU radio, at American University, Washington, DC
G&M = (Toronto) Globe and Mail
TWSJ. or WSJ. = The Wall Street Journal.
NYT = New York Times
PR = Progressive Railroading
VC = Vancouver, Washington, Columbian
RA = Railway Age
TO = Trainorders
ColDisp = Colmubus, Ohio, Dispatch
NJ = New Jersey.com
DU = Democratic Underground
Vox = Vox Media
WaPo = Washington Post
DOE = Department of Energy
Inforum = Fargo ND - Moorhead MN Forum

APNewsBreak: Railroad in fiery derailment agrees to changes, DU, December 23, 2016

APNewsBreak: Railroad in fiery derailment agrees to changes, Associated Press via Seattle Times, December 23, 2016

Railroad involved in fiery Columbia River Gorge derailment agrees to changes, Billings Gazette, December 23, 2016

Tank Car Maker Controlled by Carl Icahn Suing Railroad Regulators, DU, December 23, 2016

Tank Car Maker Controlled by Carl Icahn Suing Railroad Regulators, TWSJ., December 22, 2016

New Directive Targets Crude-by-Rail Safety, FRA press release, September 29, 2016

2 ND rail inspectors receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration, KFYR-TV, Bismarck, ND, September 21, 2016

Crude-by-rail volumes to the East Coast are declining, DU, August 4, 2016

Crude-by-rail volumes to the East Coast are declining, Energy Information Administration (EIA), August 3, 2016

Oil-by-rail safety concerns likely to reignite after Oregon derailment, Reuters, via Inforum, June 6, 2016

Oil train derails, catches fire near Hood River, VC, June 3, 2016

Oil train derails near Mosier in Columbia River Gorge, DU, June 3, 2016

Oil train derails near Mosier in Columbia River Gorge, Oregonian, June 3, 2016

NTSB report: Broken rail likely caused 2014 Lynchburg train derailment, Lynchburg {Virginia} News & Advance, March 2, 2016

Washington {state} transportation commission adopts CBR safety rules, PR, February 11, 2016

Maine rail cargo secrecy law bypassed public access, safety defenses, DU, February 10, 2016

Maine rail cargo secrecy law bypassed public access, safety defenses, Bangor Daily News, February 10, 2016

Crude by rail down, but officials still bracing for danger on tracks, Lynchburg {Virginia} News & Advance, January 12, 2016

Still no final report 2 years after fiery Casselton oil crash, Grand Forks {North Dakota} Herald, December 29, 2015

First responders often unprepared for derailments, Columbus {Ohio} Dispatch, December 22, 2015

Oil trains raise alarm for Denver residents in growing neighborhoods, Denver Post, December 2, 2015 (print edition. Posted online December 1, 2015)

Oil train safety concerns cast shadow over cross-border rail deal, Kansas City Star, November 30, 2015. By Curtis Tate, ctate@mcclatchydc.com

Rail safety fight rolls into election politics, DU, November 24, 2015

Rail safety fight rolls into election politics, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, November 23, 2015. This is not about rail safety per se, but how elected and regulatory officials in MN are approaching the subject.

Oil trains pose risks to aging bridges, report finds, Albany Times-Union, November 10, 2015

Report questions safety of rusting, crumbling railroad bridges, WaPo, November 10, 2015

DEADLY CROSSING: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains, report released by Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, Riverkeeper and a national network of Waterkeeper organizations, November 10, 2015

Buffett's BNSF helped lead fight to delay train safety technology, DU, November 4, 2015

Buffett's BNSF helped lead fight to delay train safety technology, Reuters, November 4, 2015

Audit finds railroad safety lacking during high oil traffic, DU, October 30, 2015

Audit finds railroad safety lacking during high oil traffic, Helena Independent Record and Associated Press, October 29, 2015

Officials: Broken rail missed on 2 inspections caused fiery West Va. train derailment, DU, October 9, 2015

Officials: Broken rail missed on 2 inspections caused fiery West Va. train derailment, Associated Press via Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 9, 2015

Feds say broken rail caused Fayette County train derailment, West Virginia Gazette-Mail, October 9, 2015

Sandia Releases Survey of Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Handling and Fire Safety in Transport, DU, March 31, 2015

Sandia National Laboratories Releases Literature Survey of Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Handling and Fire Safety in Transport, DOE, March 24, 2015

Literature Survey of Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Handling and Fire Safety in Transport (website), Sandia National Laboratories, March 24, 2015

Literature Survey of Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Handling and Fire Safety in Transport (download), Sandia National Laboratories, March 24, 2015

19 U.S. senators call for more federal money for oil-by-rail safety measures, DU, March 25, 2015

19 U.S. senators call for more federal money for oil-by-rail safety measures, Lynchburg, VA, News & Advance, March 24, 2015

Union Pacific request to haul liquefied natural gas draws criticism, DU, March 19, 2015. Granted, it's LNG and not crude oil, but it's hazardous material in tankcars.

Union Pacific request to haul liquefied natural gas draws criticism, Omaha World-Herald, March 19, 2015

After a spate of train wrecks, Congress takes a new view of federal rail agency, DU, March 15, 2015

After a spate of train wrecks, Congress takes a new view of federal rail agency, WaPo, March 16, 2015 (this went online Sunday afternoon, March 15, but it was in Monday's paper)

Explosive concern: Trains carry oil across the Valley, WKBN, March 12, 2015. Hat tip, TO, March 12, 2015:

Oil Train Preparedness Story in Youngstown News

Dangerous Trains, Aging Rails, DU, March 12, 2015

Dangerous Trains, Aging Rails, Opinion piece submitted by a contributor to the NYT, March 12, 2015

Canada to Propose Tougher Oil Tank Car Standards, DU, March 12, 2015

Canada to Propose Tougher Oil Tank Car Standards, NYT, March 11, 2015

Another Train Derailment Raises New Concerns About The Safety Of Transporting Crude Oil, DU, March 11, 2015

Another Train Derailment Raises New Concerns About The Safety Of Transporting Crude Oil, WAMU, March 9, 2015

BNSF oil train derailment pictures, DU, March 10, 2015

BNSF oil train derailment pictures, TO, March 10, 2015

Ontario calls on feds to ramp up rail safety after recent derailments, Sudbury Star (Ontario), March 9, 2015

Train derails in Northern Ontario, heightening safety fears, DU, March 9, 2015

Train derails in Northern Ontario, heightening safety fears, G&M, March 8 and 9, 2015

CN says crude oil train derailed in Ontario, fire reported, Sudbury Star (Ontario), via Reuters, March 7, 2015

Wrecks Hit Tougher Oil Railcars, DU, March 9, 2015

CPC-1232s, oil tankers rupture in recent wrecks, TO, March 9, 2015

Wrecks Hit Tougher Oil Railcars, WSJ., March 8, 2015

A Third Blast on Oil Trains Stirs Scrutiny, DU, March 8, 2015

A Third Blast on Oil Trains Stirs Scrutiny, NYT, March 6, 2015

White House deferred to N. Dakota on oil train safety, DU, March 6, 2015

White House deferred to N. Dakota on oil train safety, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 6, 2015

West Virginia Derailment Raises Concerns About Volatility Of Bakken Oil, National Public Radio, March 4, 2015

New bills seek to strengthen crude-by-rail safety, extend short-line tax credit, DU, March 4, 2015

New bills seek to strengthen crude-by-rail safety, extend short-line tax credit, PR, March 4, 2015

Vancouver, Washington, extends moratorium on crude oil facilities, DU, March 3,2015

Vancouver extends moratorium on crude oil facilities, VC, March 2,2015

Oil train mishaps reveal tank car strengths and limitations, DU, February 27, 2015

Oil train mishaps reveal tank car strengths and limitations, RA, February 16, 2015

New Canadian legislation aims to bolster rail safety, strengthen oversight, DU, February 23, 2015

New Canadian legislation aims to bolster rail safety, strengthen oversight, PR, February 23, 2015

CSX oil train derailment, Trains magazine discussion about the derailment in West Virginia, started February 16, 2015

Oil trains quietly rerouted after W.Va. derailment, DU, February 23, 2015

Detoured CSX Oil Train (NS 071), TO, February 17, 2015

CSX reroutes to follow old Virginian Line, TO, February 22, 2015

Oil trains quietly rerouted after W.Va. derailment, ColDisp, February 21, 2015

W. Va. oil train explosion has N.J. raising concerns over rail safety, DU, February 19, 2015

CSX oil train derailment in West Virginia on February 16, 2015, DU, February 19, 2015. Consists of links to other articles.

New Jersey article on oil trains, TO, February 19, 2015

W. Va. oil train explosion has N.J. raising concerns over rail safety, NJ, February 19, 2015

Another oil train explodes in West Virginia. Here's why this keeps happening., Vox, February 17, 2015

DeFazio requests USDOT action on tank-car safety, DU, January 26, 2015

DeFazio requests USDOT action on tank-car safety; Kind and Baldwin seek environmental review of BNSF track project, PR, January 26, 2015

Oil Trains Hide in Plain Sight, DU, January 20, 2015

Oil Trains Hide in Plain Sight, WSJ., December 3, 2014

Federal Railroad Administration Issues Final Rule to Improve Rail Flaw Detection, Bloomberg BNA Occupational Safety and Health Reporter, January 24, 2014

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Reply Oil Train Safety Megathread. Updated March 24, 2020 (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2015 OP
elleng Mar 2015 #1
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2015 #2
elleng Mar 2015 #3
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #4
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #11
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 2015 #35
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #5
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #6
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #7
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #8
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #9
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #10
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2015 #12
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #13
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2015 #40
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #14
DemReadingDU May 2015 #15
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #17
DemReadingDU May 2015 #18
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #16
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #19
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #20
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #21
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #22
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #23
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #24
mahatmakanejeeves May 2015 #25
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2015 #26
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2015 #27
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2015 #28
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2015 #29
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2015 #30
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2015 #31
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 2015 #32
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 2015 #33
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 2015 #34
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2015 #36
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2015 #37
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2015 #38
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2015 #39
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2015 #41
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2015 #42
mahatmakanejeeves Jan 2016 #43
mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2016 #44
mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2016 #45
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2016 #46
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2016 #47
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2016 #48
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2016 #49
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 2016 #50
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 2016 #51
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2017 #52
mahatmakanejeeves May 2017 #53
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2017 #54
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2017 #55
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Sep 2018 #56
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2018 #57
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2018 #58
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2018 #59
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2018 #60
Eugene Feb 2019 #61
mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2019 #62
Hotler Feb 2019 #63
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2019 #64
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2019 #65
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2019 #66
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 2019 #67
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2020 #68

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Mar 9, 2015, 09:26 AM

1. Thanks for keeping us up to date on these important matters.

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Response to elleng (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 9, 2015, 09:28 AM

2. The stuff was getting scattered. I was impressed by progree's analysis

of the BLS employment report, which he updates every month. This:

Economy facts with links to official sources, rev 3/7/15

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 9, 2015, 09:34 AM

3. Yes, that's very impressive.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Apr 2, 2015, 09:21 AM

4. Links, Late 2014 - April 30, 2015

Last edited Mon Jul 25, 2016, 01:39 PM - Edit history (21)

These don't justify separate threads.

NTSB = National Transportation Safety Board

Senators Propose Fees for Shipping Oil by Rail Car, AP via NYT, April 30, 2015

Department of Energy to examine crude oil volatility, PR, April 30, 2015

One year after Lynchburg train wreck, booming Bakken still fuels concerns, Lynchburg News & Advance, April 30, 2015

FRA freezes on tank car sloshing; DOE oil volatility bombshell drops like a dud, RA, April 29, 2015

USDOT's new actions, emergency order address transport of energy products by rail, PR, April 20, 2015

Feds order speed limits for oil trains, The Hill, April 17, 2015

Regulators Urge Railroads to Make Changes to Improve Oil-Train Safety, Russell Gold and Betsy Morris, WSJ., April 17, 2015

Safety Regulations Issued for Trains Carrying Oil, Jad Mouawad, NYT, April 17, 2015

Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP), PHMSA, April 17, 2015

PHMSA Notice 15-7, PHMSA, April 17, 2015

Rep. Payne calls for tighter standards on DOT-111 tank cars, PR, April 17, 2015

Transportation officials issue oil train safety measures, DU, April 17, 2015

Transportation officials issue oil train safety measures, VC, April 17, 2015

FRA Office of Safety Analysis, FRA database, no date

Oil-by-rail critics meet with Inslee policy officials, Vancouver (Washington) Columbian, April 11, 2015

NTSB Issues Urgent Recommendations Calling For Improved Rail Tank Cars to Carry Flammable Liquids Such as Crude Oil and Ethanol, NTSB, April 6, 2015. I'm on a few of their listservs.

North Dakota creates new requirements for oil shipped on trains, AP, via Charleston, WV, Daily Mail, April 1, 2015

Crude oil continues to flow through Maryland amid debate about safety, Baltimore Sun, March 30, 2015

Bakken oil trains roll across Columbus {Ohio}, Columbus Dispatch, March 29, 2015

Tank car builders don’t agree on DOT-111 obsolescence timeline, Railway Age, March 26, 2015

‘Get them off rails now,’ Sen. Cantwell says of some oil tank cars, Olympian, March 25, 2015

API twisting DOE report on crude oil, Railway Age, March 25, 2015

In some Maryland railroad towns, crude oil is an open secret, Baltimore Sun, December 24, 2014

Oil Trains at Junction in North Dakota, WSJ. December 7 (online) or 8 (in print), 2014

Environmental groups stepping up opposition to crude oil shipments in Baltimore, Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2014

The shared role of oilfield safety, Bismarck Tribune, July 28, 2014. Oil transport safety in general. Not just railroads, but pipelines too. [font color=red]Added July 25, 2016[/font]

2 railroads sue Md. to prevent disclosure of crude oil shipments, Baltimore Sun, July 28, 2014

DOT Proposes New Tank Car Standards, Classification Rules & Operational Controls for Crude Oil & Ethanol Transportation, Thompson Hine law firm, July 25, 2014

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #4)


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #4)

Sat Oct 10, 2015, 01:26 PM

35. Oil Trains at Junction in North Dakota

I'm doing some catching up, by adding a link to a story from December 2014.

From The Wall Street Journal., December 7 (online) or 8 (in print), 2014

Business

Oil Trains at Junction in North Dakota

Fracking Companies Await Regulator’s Decision on Stabilizing Crude Before Shipment

By Chester Dawson
@DeleverTheFirm

Updated Dec. 7, 2014 8:17 p.m. ET

Energy producers in North Dakota are expected to face new regulations soon on treating their crude oil if the state’s chief energy regulator follows through this week on promised standards aimed at ensuring that Bakken Shale crude oil can be more safely shipped by rail.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission will meet on Tuesday {December 9} to complete steps it proposed last month that would require oil companies as of Feb. 1 next year {2015} to start removing volatile gaseous compounds before shipping their crude on railroads crisscrossing the country.

The commission’s decision will be closely watched because critics say the proposals don’t go far enough while the oil industry has complained they go too far. North Dakota has felt pressure to act amid growing concern nationwide that Bakken crude poses a higher threat in a derailment or other accident.
....

Some activists in North Dakota and a growing chorus of leaders in local municipalities and other states have raised questions about the safety of Bakken crude-by-rail shipments in the wake of a series of fiery train explosions, including one in July 2013 that killed 47 people in a Quebec town.


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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Apr 7, 2015, 09:08 AM

5. Fewer Oil Trains Ply America’s Rails

Fewer Oil Trains Ply America’s Rails, WSJ., April 6, 2105

Business

Safety concerns, low crude prices depress train traffic

By Alison Sider
alison.sider@wsj.com

Updated April 6, 2015 3:30 p.m. ET

The growth in oil-train shipments fueled by the U.S. energy boom has stalled in recent months, dampened by safety problems and low crude prices. ... The number of train cars carrying crude and other petroleum products peaked last fall, according to data from the Association of American Railroads, and began edging down. In March, oil-train traffic was down 7% on a year-over-year basis.

Railroads have been a major beneficiary of the U.S. energy boom, as oil companies turned to trains to move crude to refineries from remote oil fields in North Dakota and other areas not served by pipelines. Rail shipments of oil have expanded from 20 million barrels in 2010 to just under 374 million barrels last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

About 1.38 million barrels a day of oil and fuels like gasoline rode the rails in March, versus an average of 1.5 million barrels a day in the same period a year ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the railroad association’s data.

Oil-train traffic declined 1% in the fourth quarter of 2014 as crude-oil prices started to tumble toward $50 a barrel. More recently, data from the U.S. Energy Department show oil-train movements out of the prolific Bakken Shale in North Dakota have leveled off as drillers there have begun to pump less, though oil-train shipments from the Rocky Mountain region have risen.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #5)


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Apr 7, 2015, 09:24 AM

7. NTSB Calls for Aggressive Schedule to Fix Railcar Fleet

NTSB Calls for Aggressive Schedule to Fix Railcar Fleet, WSJ., April 6, 2105

Business

Move comes in wake of recent fiery derailments

By Bob Tita
robert.tita@wsj.com

April 6, 2015 6:52 p.m. ET

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for an aggressive schedule to replace or upgrade railroad tank cars that haul crude oil and other flammable liquids in the wake of recent fiery derailments. ... Railcar owners and shippers of oil, ethanol and other flammable materials have asked the federal government to give them at least several years to bring tens of thousands of tank cars into compliance with new regulations.

“The thermal performance and pressure relief capacity of bare steel tank cars that conform to current federal and industry requirements is insufficient to prevent tank failures” from fires said a letter from the NTSB to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, one of the agencies involved in drafting a new tank car safety standard.

“We can’t wait a decade for safer railcars,” said Board Chairman Christopher A. Hart on Monday. The safety board said communities are being placed at risk by the continued use of older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, along with newer models that lack fire-resistant insulation. Canadian transportation authorities last month proposed that older tank cars hauling crude oils be replaced or upgraded in two years but offered car owners as long as 10 years to upgrade newer tank cars hauling oil and other flammables.

The NTSB is recommending a five-year phase-in for fixing existing tank cars with 20% of cars to be completed each year.

The article is based on this:

NTSB Issues Urgent Recommendations Calling For Improved Rail Tank Cars to Carry Flammable Liquids Such as Crude Oil and Ethanol, NTSB, April 6, 2015.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #7)


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Apr 20, 2015, 12:58 PM

9. Regulators Urge Railroads to Make Changes to Improve Oil-Train Safety

Regulators Urge Railroads to Make Changes to Improve Oil-Train Safety

Business
Advisory on handling of defective wheels after fiery BNSF oil-train derailment in Illinois last month

By Russell Gold and Betsy Morris
Russell.Gold@wsj.com
betsy.morris@wsj.com
Updated April 17, 2015 6:25 p.m. ET

U.S. regulators are urging railroads to make dramatic operating changes, including how they deal with wheel defects, saying a wheel problem may have caused the fiery oil-train derailment in Illinois last month.

Despite multiple warning signs, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Philadelphia continued to travel on a potentially faulty wheel, according to a preliminary federal investigation. ... Twenty-one cars of a BNSF Railway Co. oil train derailed near Galena, Ill., 160 miles west of Chicago. Several cars ruptured during the accident and the oil inside caught fire, generating large explosions.

On Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a safety advisory pointing to a broken wheel and telling railroads to act more aggressively to fix similar defects found on other trains.

According to investigators, a trackside device flagged the oil train’s defective wheel about 130 miles before the derailment. A month before the accident, other similar devices registered a reading on this railcar’s wheel at a level that indicated there was a flat spot that made it “condemnable,” according to the safety advisory. ... Despite the reading, BNSF didn’t break any industry or federal rule. Industry guidelines suggest that the wheel be replaced the next time the tank car was sent for repairs.

In late March, BNSF began slowing down its trains that haul crude oil to 35 miles an hour in cities with over 100,000 residents, according to a letter sent to its customers. The railroad stepped up the frequency of track inspections to 2½ times the rate required by FRA regulators along certain waterways.

Safety Regulations Issued for Trains Carrying Oil

By JAD MOUAWADAPRIL 17, 2015



Oil fields in North Dakota. Recent derailments involving crude oil trains have often resulted in explosions and oil spills. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Responding to public pressure to act more quickly after a series of fiery train derailments involving oil shipments, the Transportation Department on Friday issued a series of emergency orders, including a 40-mile-an-hour speed limit for hazardous materials moving through urban areas.

The emergency rules also require railroads to provide detailed information about a shipment within 90 minutes of any derailment.

Federal regulators are under increasing pressure from members of Congress and local officials to publish new safety regulations for the growing business of transporting crude oil by train. Those new rules, in the works for more than two years, were sent to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget two months ago. They are expected to be made public by May 12.

In a statement, Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said that the boom in crude oil transportation “poses a serious threat to public safety.” He said the orders reflected “lessons learned from recent accidents,” adding, “we are not done yet.”

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2015, 11:34 AM

10. Oil prices, safety concerns slow crude-by-rail trains

Ewart: Oil prices, safety concerns slow crude-by-rail trains


Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald
More from Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald

Stephen Ewart is a Calgary Herald columnist
sewart@calgaryherald.com
twitter.com/stephen_ewart

Published on: April 23, 2015
Last Updated: April 23, 2015 6:47 AM MDT

After five years of rapid growth — punctuated by fiery crashes that stoked public safety fears across North America — the business of moving crude-by-rail is slowing down. ... It goes well beyond trains loaded with oil adhering to new lower speed limits.

A 20-fold surge in the volume of crude moving by rail across the continent has been an unintended consequence of the shale oil boom since 2010, but first quarter results released this week by Canada’s two largest railways suggest growth in the sector may be running out of gas. ... Similar to the oil industry overall, there is still upside forecast for oil-by-rail but it’s at a slower pace than forecast before a 50 per cent drop in the price of oil.

Canadian Pacific Railway revealed an eight per cent year-over-year drop in carloads of oil in its first quarter results this week. The Calgary-based railway hasn’t altered its forecast to ship 140,000 carloads of oil in 2015 but as recently as December it was predicting moving up to 200,000 carloads this year.

Canadian National Railway expects the number of carloads of oil and frack sand — a critical component in shale oil production — it will move in 2015 to rise by 40,000 carloads to 247,000. That’s less than half of what the Montreal-based railway had previously forecast. Industry analysts suggest oil will account for about 152,000 of the “energy-related” tankers shipped by CN.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Apr 30, 2015, 10:32 AM

12. One year after Lynchburg train wreck, booming Bakken still fuels concerns

One year after Lynchburg train wreck, booming Bakken still fuels concerns

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015 12:15 am
BY ALEX ROHR and ALICIA PETSKA The News & Advance
Contact Rohr at (434) 385-5537 or rohr@newsadvance.com
Contact Petska at (434) 385-5542 or apetska@newsadvance.com

....
{A} 109-car train, hauling Bakken crude bound for Virginia derailed Feb. 16 near the small village of Mount Carbon, a community with history rooted in another fossil fuel: coal. ... The same train would have traveled through Lynchburg within a few hours, passing over the rebuilt downtown riverbank where a similar train derailed one year ago today.

These derailments and subsequent tanker explosions are part of a growing trend of oil-by-rail accidents raising alarms across North America. The debate — focused on improving rail cars, maintaining track and providing emergency personnel with more resources — is part of a vast discussion about what materials should fuel power grids throughout the world and how to transport them.

Crude oil derailments have been on the rise amid a Bakken oil boom that generates about 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, according to federal estimates. That’s a nearly 800 percent jump for the Bakken region since 2008. Most of that oil is transported by rail.

In 2006 and 2007, the U.S. had no train derailments involving crude oil, according to a database maintained by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In 2013 and 2014, there were eight derailments, including Lynchburg’s, collectively releasing more than 930,000 gallons of oil.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon May 4, 2015, 03:38 PM

13. Links, May 1 - July 31, 2015

Last edited Wed Jul 22, 2015, 08:00 AM - Edit history (21)

Officials: Oil Train Didn't Speed Before Montana Derailment, DU, July 22, 2015

Crude oil train derails in rural northeastern Montana, DU, July 17, 2015

Grand Forks, North Dakota, eyes second rail safety training center in the U.S., DU, July 14, 2015

Grand Forks eyes second rail safety training center in the U.S., Grand Forks Herald, July 14, 2015

Railroads use new oil train rule to fight transparency, DU, June 30, 2015

Railroads use new oil train rule to fight transparency, McClatchy, June 25, 2015

Nine Charged in Connection With 2013 Quebec Train Derailment, DU, June 23, 2015

Should "lack of a safety culture" be a criminal matter?, TO, June 23, 2015

Lac-Mégantic: Charges filed, TO, June 23, 2015

Nine Charged in Connection With 2013 Quebec Train Derailment, WSJ, June 22, 2015

Charges made in connection with Lac-Mégantic train derailment, RA, June 22, 2015

Oil Firms Agree to Pay Millions in Compensation for Quebec Train Blast, DU Environment & Energy (Group), June 11, 2015

Oil Firms Agree to Pay Millions in Compensation for Quebec Train Blast, DU Economy Forum, June 11, 2015

Oil companies agree to pay share of Lac Megantic - precedent?, TO, June 10, 2015

Oil Firms Agree to Pay Millions in Compensation for Quebec Train Blast, WSJ., June 9, 2015

Eastern Railroad Discussion > NJ - CSX Oradell reservoir bridge to be replaced, Trainorders, June 4, 2015

More work needed to shore up Oradell Reservoir bridge used by oil trains, NorthJersey.com (Bergen, NJ, Record), June 3, 2015

This article links to:

Railroad’s safety checks of bridge over Oradell Reservoir questioned NorthJersey.com (Bergen, NJ, Record), March 27, 2015

Crude by rail receipts continue to be an important source of supply for West Coast refiners, U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 28, 2015

Latest round of oil train inspections is complete, Albany (New York) Times Union, May 27, 2015

Oil Industry Asks Court to Block Rail Transport Safety Rules, NYT, May 12, 2015

Oil in North Dakota derailment was treated to cut volatility, DU, May 8, 2015

Oil in North Dakota derailment was treated to cut volatility, Midland (Texas) Reporter-Telegram, May 7, 2015

Keystone boosters turfed from office in bitumen’s homeland, RA, May 6, 2015

The war over electric brakes, Trains magazine, May 6, 2015

Fred Frailey's blog at Trains magazine, appears from time to time

Heimdal, North Dakota, Evacuated After Fiery Oil Train Crash, DU, May 6, 2015

Heimdal, North Dakota, Evacuated After Fiery Oil Train Crash, NBC News, May 6, 2015

Crude oil derailment in North Dakota, TO, May 6, 2015

North Dakota Town Evacuated After Train Derailment, Valley News Live, May 6, 2015

More Canadian Crude on the way?, TO, May 6, 2015

Train Route of Oil trains from NY to NJ, TO, May 5, 2015

USDOT releases final rule on crude-by-rail safety, joins Transport Canada in introducing new tank-car class, PR, May 4, 2015

DOT-117 tank car rule debuts with controversy, RA, May 1, 2015

U.S., Canada toughen oil train safety standards, DU, May 1, 2015

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #13)


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed May 6, 2015, 12:13 PM

14. EIA: Rail delivered 52 percent of East Coast refinery supply in February

EIA: Rail delivered 52 percent of East Coast refinery supply in February

5/6/2015
Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Crude oil delivered by rail accounted for more than half — 52 percent — of crude oil delivered to East Coast refineries in February, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced yesterday.

As U.S. and Canadian production of crude oil has increased, the transportation of the oil by rail to the East Coast — known by EIA as Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 1 — has displaced waterborne imports of crude oil from countries other than Canada, such as Nigeria, EIA officials said in their latest "Today in Energy" brief.

Although refinery utilization in PADD 1 in early 2015 has been below typical levels, the February data indicated the first time crude delivery by rail has accounted for such a high percentage of East Coast refinery supply, EIA officials said.

Much of the crude moved by rail comes from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and eastern Montana. Bakken crude supplied by rail to U.S. East Coast refineries, along with U.S. crude production supplied by marine vessels from the Gulf Coast, has reduced demand for foreign oil at East Coast refineries, EIA officials said.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu May 7, 2015, 07:54 AM

15. Thanks for keeping track of these derailments, n/t

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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #15)

Thu May 7, 2015, 11:42 AM

17. De nada, but note that

Last edited Thu May 7, 2015, 02:09 PM - Edit history (1)

the thread's scope is not limited to coverage of derailments. I try to put all links to information about the shipment of oil by rail in one place. This includes regulatory actions and engineering developments related to oil by rail or crude by rail (CBR).

I intend this to be a resource for DU'ers and anyone else who stumbles across it during a web search. I concentrate on actual news sources rather than blogs run by special causes of any persuasion. I want facts and figures from authoritative sources. I'm not averse to using an industry trade group as a source, but any article so linked has to be something other than a lobbying puff piece. If it deals with an engineering solution to a problem, then it's okay to get linked.

The full disclosure in the OP is important. I own shares of rail stocks, but the safe shipment of hazardous materials outweighs any financial stake I have.

I hope you enjoy the thread. If you run across factual information regarding oil by rail that has escaped my notice, please let me know.

Best wishes.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #17)

Thu May 7, 2015, 04:19 PM

18. Lots of valuable information


Appreciate the time it takes to document it all in one place.

I have bookmarked this thread!


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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu May 7, 2015, 11:27 AM

16. The war over electric brakes

The war over electric brakes

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, May 06, 2015

....
Now come electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, better known as ECP. The U.S. Department of Transportation told railroads that crude oil trains of more than 69 cars must have ECP braking by 2021 or it will restrict these trains to 30 mph at all times. At this, the normally unflappable Ed Hamberger, president of the Association of American Railroads, went haywire. “First and foremost, the DOT has no substantial evidence to support a safety justification for mandating ECP brakes, which will not prevent accidents,” Hamberger said. “The DOT couldn’t make a safety case for ECP but forged ahead anyhow.” Expect the AAR to challenge this rule in court.
....

So I’ll make the case for ECP. (By the way, the standards were developed two decades ago by the same AAR that now vigorously opposes their implementation.) A train equipped with electronic braking is hard-wired, allowing instant communication from airbrake handle in the locomotive to every brake valve on the cars. The principal advantages are that all brakes instantly apply and release at the same time, the air supply is continually charged, engineers can gradually release and reapply brakes, and undesired emergency braking (dynamiters, they’re called) virtually disappear. In-train forces, such as slack roll-in and roll-out, are greatly reduced, and that lessens the risk of derailment. Moreover, stopping distance is reduced 40 to 60 percent, permitting higher train speeds and higher speeds approaching restricting signals. Longer trains are possible. Longer trains run at higher speeds increase the capacity of the railroad network. Because air is always charging, braking power is inexhaustible; plus, a train can stop and instantly restart. Brakes, draft gear, wheels, and bearings require less maintenance. Existing federal regulations would allow train inspections every 5,000 miles instead of the present 1,500 or 1,000 miles.

Those are a lot of advantages. In a report commissioned by the Federal Railroad Administration in 2005, the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton estimated the cost of full implementation of ECP at $6 billion and the measurable savings (not including added network capacity) at $650 million a year. Booz recommended that ECP conversion begin with coal trains loaded in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, then to other types of unit trains (presumably including intermodal trains), and finally the rest of the car fleet — all in a 15-year time frame. “As applied to western coal service,” its report stated, “the business case is substantial,” with a recovery of all costs within three years. ... And yet, a decade later, nothing has happened, and probably at the urging of his member railroads, Ed Hamberger is fightin’ mad and probably on his way to federal court.

Several things are going on here. Silos are one. Nobody is looking at the big picture, just his or her little piece of it. The boys in the Mechanical Silo could care less about increased network capacity. The occupants of the Finance Silo don’t want to divert cash flow away from share buybacks, their favorite toy. Most of those in the CEO Silo didn’t come up on the operating side and are probably bored by the subject. In a conservative, mature business like railroading, risk taking and even forward thinking are not rewarded. And the cost of hard-wiring the car fleet would primarily be borne by shippers, who own most of the equipment, whereas railroads would reap the benefits. How to share the benefits with car-owning shippers leads to very difficult negotiations.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2015, 10:10 AM

19. Keystone boosters turfed from office in bitumen’s homeland

Keystone boosters turfed from office in bitumen’s homeland

Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Written by David Thomas, Contributing Editor

Prospects for the contentious Keystone XL pipeline proposed to connect Alberta’s northern tar sands with U.S. Gulf Coast refiners has endured another brutal body check, this time from the home team. The province’s brand-new, left-leaning government elected May 5 says it will cease its predecessor’s long campaign of supplicating and bullying President Barack Obama for the pipeline’s approval. ... Cross-border transportation of much Alberta bitumen may thus default to rail—on condition that producers figure out how to ship the stuff without the highly volatile naptha and hydrogen components artificially added to make the goop flow and to juice up its energy content.
....

Before last winter’s twin oil train disasters in northern Ontario, conventional wisdom was that old DOT-111s could be reassigned to Alberta bitumen service as they were phased out for more volatile crudes, particularly Baaken. The CN derailments and chain reaction explosions revealed that bitumen is no longer benign, barely flammable tar once it has been diluted with highly explosive naptha or synthetically charged with hydrogen.

If CBR is to continue as a conduit for Alberta’s modified bitumen, shippers will have to find a way to reduce its volatility. U.S. regulators are making clear that new tank cars and operating rules are just the first step in de-weaponizing the shipment of crude by rail. It now seems clear that new rules are on the way to require removal of explosive gases before loading into railcars, instead of adding them as bitumen shippers do now. ... The only visible option is to heat raw bitumen so that it will flow into and out of tank cars. That requires special tank cars with internal steam coils that re-melt the bitumen at its destination. Such steam-coiled cars are rare and none conform to the new DOT-117 specification. In fact, the new tank car specs do not even consider steam coils as an option.

Thus, Alberta’s dumping of Keystone XL as an objective of public policy creates a long-term opportunity for CBR, but only if tar sands bitumen can be carried across international boundaries in a state acceptable to regulators and politicians.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2015, 10:16 AM

20. FRA freezes on tank car sloshing; DOE oil volatility bombshell drops like a dud

FRA freezes on tank car sloshing; DOE oil volatility bombshell drops like a dud

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Written by David Thomas, Contributing Editor

How crude oil sloshing inside moving tank cars affects train stability was under close scrutiny by the Federal Railroad Administration, the regulator’s Acting Administrator told reporters back on March 13. That was after a string of mid-winter oil train disasters exposed the prevailing focus on tank car thickness to be essentially pointless in the quest to prevent oil train derailments and explosions. ... Sarah Feinberg had been appointed in January by President Obama to shake up an agency paralyzed by its own procedures and deservedly reputed for an imperious attitude towards the public’s right to know. So, while skepticism about her knowledge of the railroad business greeted Feinberg’s interim appointment, there was justifiable expectation among we ink-stained wretches that the slick public relations professional would at least fix her agency’s Orwellian-titled “office of communications.”
....

During an appearance before a Senate committee on April 28, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz dropped what should have been a media bombshell by revealing that a bi-departmental investigation with the U.S. Department of Transportation is being launched into how differing degrees of volatility affect the safe transportation of crude oil by rail. ... Fortunately, McClatchy Newspapers’ Curtis Tate was on hand to report the start of this next step in the reform of moving crude oil by rail. Curiously, McClatchy remains alone in the Google News cull of stories about crude-by-rail. The Department of Energy itself did not bother to emit a news release about its chief’s portentous remark and ignored Railway Age’s request for elucidation. Perhaps it hopes the American Petroleum Institute will not notice.

Even as the White House Office of Management and Budget is on the cusp of decreeing final new regulations for tank car design and oil train operations, it is becoming self-evident to many outside of the oil business that the nuisance of exploding cargo will not be solved before crude is de-weaponized at the well site by cooking off contaminating volatile gases.

The Energy Secretary’s low-key announcement is the beginning of another interminable round of reports and refutations that will safely ensure the oil business is not inconvenienced for years to come. ... Despairingly, Moniz said the joint study with the USDOT will take 24 months. That’s two months longer than the interval since the continuing catastrophe of exploding crude started at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013. How many oil trains will derail and explode over the course of the next two years is impossible to predict. The safe guess is more than none.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed May 13, 2015, 11:48 AM

21. Oil Industry Asks Court to Block Rail Transport Safety Rules

Hat tip, Trainorders: Oil industry rebuffs new oil train rules

Oil Industry Asks Court to Block Rail Transport Safety Rules

Energy & Environment
By JAD MOUAWAD MAY 12, 2015

The oil industry is challenging new federal rules intended to improve the safety of oil-by-train transportation, opening the first legal fight in a two-year effort to reduce the risks of moving hazardous materials on railroads.

The American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main trade group, petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block key provisions of the rules, which were unveiled this month by Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary. The petition was filed on Monday.

The trade group, which represents companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, has long argued that forcing oil producers and shippers to use newer tank cars and replace older models would impose high costs on the industry and lead to a shortfall in tank car capacity.

The petition seeks to block a requirement that older tank cars be retrofitted with new safety features designed to prevent them from spilling oil or rupturing in a derailment. It also challenges a requirement that tank cars be equipped with new electronic braking systems or face operational restrictions.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2015, 01:16 PM

22. Vancouver (Washington) Columbian Three-Part Series About Port Oil Terminal Deal

Last edited Tue May 19, 2015, 12:59 PM - Edit history (5)

About this series

The Columbian’s three-day series is the result of a months-long examination of more than 1,700 public documents; testimony and remarks delivered during public meetings; and interviews with open-government experts, Port of Vancouver officials, and others.

The public documents analyzed include more than 300 pages of depositions taken of port commissioners as part of an ongoing lawsuit that accuses the port of violating the state’s open public meetings law in deciding the oil terminal lease.

The initial lawsuit, filed in October 2013, cited information contained in a July 31 story by The Columbian that first revealed apparent breaches by the port of the open public meetings law. For the series, the newspaper obtained other documents through public disclosure requests. Those records include port emails, commission agenda materials and an internal report.

— Aaron Corvin

A COLUMBIAN SPECIAL INVESTIGATION

Three-part series

SUNDAY: Commissioners defer key decisions to port staff.

MONDAY: Sealing the oil terminal deal behind the scenes.

TUESDAY: The port faces political fallout.

SUNDAY: Culture of secrecy shrouds Port of Vancouver

Documents and analysis show port has kept public in the dark about oil terminal and other issues

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter
Published: May 17, 2015, 5:59 AM

The Port of Vancouver is a government body that's beholden to its voters and taxpayers.

Yet its elected officials embrace a culture of secrecy, meeting behind closed doors "about 95 percent of the time," as one commissioner put it in a court deposition, and making decisions inside a bubble of deference to the port administration and the private industries it courts. As a result, the powerful port often sidesteps full public accountability, which is one reason why it faces impassioned political and legal challenges to its decision to approve what would be the nation's largest rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal.

That's the picture that emerges from an investigation by The Columbian based on an examination of port practices, a review of documents obtained through public records requests, and interviews with open-government advocates and experts in Washington's sunshine laws. The analysis points to a pattern by CEO Todd Coleman and elected commissioners Nancy Baker, Brian Wolfe and Jerry Oliver of keeping the community in the dark about crucial financial, and policy issues before making decisions and of improper use of closed-door executive sessions to hash out safety, environmental and financial issues, among others, meant to be aired in public.

The port's pattern of secrecy isn't new. But its pursuit of the oil transfer terminal has ramped up the stakes immeasurably. It faces legal challenges to both its unanimous oil terminal decision and its decision-making practices. Its relationships with political leaders concerned about or openly opposed to the oil-handling facility are now strained. And the battle over oil has morphed into a rare political challenge: a reform-minded citizen group is calling for transparency and for new elected port leaders.

MONDAY: Skids greased for oil terminal behind closed doors

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter
Published: May 18, 2015, 6:00 AM

Even the most vigilant of Port of Vancouver watchers couldn't have foreseen how the port and two private companies were paving the way behind closed doors for quick local approval of what would be the nation's largest oil-to-marine transfer terminal.

Before the public had heard a single word about the terminal, the port had agreed to negotiate exclusively with Tesoro Corp., a petroleum refiner, and Savage Companies, a transportation company, on their potential use of Terminal 5 and other port facilities. In court depositions, two of the three elected commissioners gave conflicting statements about whether the commission had approved the exclusive discussions or whether the port's CEO, Todd Coleman, used his administrative authority to sign off on it.

The dealings included a private pitch by Tesoro and Savage officials – with a BNSF Railway executive in attendance – to the port's elected commissioners: Nancy Baker, Jerry Oliver and Brian Wolfe. And, on the eve of a vote on a lease for the oil transfer terminal, commissioners held a secret meeting to discuss public comments, and to ask questions about safety and pollution liability insurance, public records show. A lawsuit against the port alleges commissioners' discussions went far beyond what is allowed in closed-door executive sessions.

These details and more are emerging only now, largely because of the paper trail and depositions generated by the lawsuit that accuses the Port of Vancouver of violating Washington's open public meetings law in deciding the oil terminal contract.

TUESDAY: Oil terminal lease unleashes a gusher of backlash

Port of Vancouver's secretive handling of issue spurs calls for more transparency

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter
Published: May 19, 2015, 6:00 AM

The Port of Vancouver's tight lid on the public's business may be coming off.

Sparked by the port's insular handling of a lease for what would be the nation's largest rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal, reform-minded critics are pushing the port to embrace a more transparent approach to making decisions. Some are jumping into the race for an open seat on the port commission, hoping to change the organization from within.

The port's pursuit of the oil terminal seems like a no-brainer, given that ports nationwide handle a variety of commodities. Yet the proposal by Tesoro Corp., a petroleum refiner, and Savage Companies, a transportation company, jangles more than a few nerves in Clark County and elsewhere. Defective tank cars, oil spills, volatile crude from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields, a string of explosive oil train accidents – those and other factors have stirred opposition from many quarters, ranging from the city of Vancouver and Washougal's school district to Native American tribes and a private developer of Vancouver's waterfront.

Others have stayed away from the fray over the siting of oil terminals. The Port of Portland, no stranger to a variety of cargoes, backed off the oil-by-rail market, announcing last spring that it didn't have "sufficient answers" to environmental and safety questions. For its part, the Port of Vancouver on April 28 approved a resolution supporting proposed federal legislation to immediately ban the use of unsafe tank cars, among other beefed-up safety steps. The port's resolution also expressed support for a recently passed state bill that includes an oil spill response tax to cover rail tank cars.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 12:44 PM

23. Customer concerns prompt BNSF to withdraw plan to buy tank cars

Customer concerns prompt BNSF to withdraw plan to buy tank cars

5/19/2015

BNSF Railway Co. has dropped an earlier announced plan to acquire up to 5,000 next-generation crude-oil tank cars, the Class I said in a recent letter to customers. ... Last year, the Class I indicated it would purchase new tank cars to help settle marketplace concerns over crude-by-rail safety. But conversations with customers in recent months convinced BNSF executives to change direction.

"While this step was initially received positively, subsequent conversations with you, our customers, indicated many of you had concerns and BNSF owning or leasing tank cars was not viewed as useful," stated the letter, which was signed by Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Bobb and Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Greg Fox.

BNSF had issued a request for proposals last year to major rail-car manufacturers to submit bids for construction of 5,000 tank cars that would exceed stronger standards that the rail industry voluntarily adopted in October 2011. The RFP was considered unusual at the time because Class Is usually don't own tank cars.

The decision to drop that plan comes two weeks after the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced its final rule on crude-by-rail safety. The rules require that tank cars built after Oct. 1 must meet design and performance requirements for a new class of tank car, the DOT-117, while existing cars must be retrofitted to meet the new standards. The rule also calls for the replacement of DOT-111 tank cars.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri May 22, 2015, 09:43 AM

24. AAR says oil-by-rail volumes dropped almost 12% in first quarter

AAR says oil-by-rail volumes dropped almost 12% in first quarter

By: Reuters | May 21 2015 at 03:35 PM | Intermodal

Crude oil shipments by top U.S. railroads fell nearly 12 percent in the first quarter of this year from the previous three months, the American Association of Railroads said, a drop likely tied to refinery work on coastal plants.

The AAR said about 897,172 barrels per day - or 113,089 carloads - originated on U.S. Class I railroads in the first three months of the year, down from more than 1 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2014. ... The decline came during heavy seasonal refinery maintenance, which reduces demand for crude to process into fuels.

In the East Coast region, where several refineries receive North Dakota Bakken crude via rail, inputs to processing units were 23 percent lower in February at 780,000 bpd compared with November, Energy Information Administration data show.

On the West Coast, where Washington state refineries also regularly get Bakken shipments, such inputs were down 9 percent in February to 2.4 million bpd compared with December.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri May 22, 2015, 09:45 AM

25. Tesoro building crude railcars stronger than new US rules require

Tesoro building crude railcars stronger than new US rules require

By: Reuters | May 18 2015 at 04:11 PM | Intermodal

U.S. refiner Tesoro Corp has ordered new crude oil railcars with features that surpass safety standards that federal regulators set this month, executives told Reuters. ... The 210 tank cars being built in northern Louisiana are so-called pressure cars, with the same design as those that carry liquid petroleum gases such as propane and butane, gas cargoes that are more flammable than crude oil. ... They will be delivered in the coming months after being ordered in early 2014.

The new federal rules for all crude and ethanol railcars built after Oct. 1 of this year do not require strength to the level of a pressure car but are stronger than the standards adopted by the industry in 2011.

Tesoro, like other oil-by-rail players, knew the federal standards were coming and the basics of what they would likely be. But the company went further with a stronger car, “which is the primary thing we control,” C.J. Warner, Tesoro’s head of strategy and business development, told Reuters.

The order was a sign the refiner wanted to get ahead of the coming regulations and avoid potential capacity bottlenecks at companies that build tank cars as shippers must now renovate their fleets.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jun 3, 2015, 10:10 AM

26. UW-Madison researchers hope frac-sand impact study will help railroads improve ballast maintenance

UW-Madison researchers hope frac-sand impact study will help railroads improve ballast maintenance

June 2015
Maintenance of Way Article
By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor
julie.sneider@tradepress.com

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers will spend the summer and fall studying the damage that frac sand can do to ballast after sand particles leak out of rail cars and onto railroad tracks.

Tuncer Edil, Jim Tinjum and Dante Fratta — professors at UW-Madison's College of Engineering — have spent years studying railway substructure stabilization and ballast fouling. More recently — as Wisconsin’s sand-mining industry has flourished in response to hydraulic fracturing — the trio has looked more closely at the impact frac sand has on ballast.

Wisconsin is the nation's leading producer of the fine silica sand, which is mixed with water and chemicals then blasted into the ground as part of the fracking process used in oil and gas drilling. Although hauling heavy carloads of frac sand from Wisconsin to shale fields in other states is good business for railroads, the impact of sand leaking from rail cars "is bad business for ballast," says Edil, emeritus professor of geological engineering.

Ballast deteriorates over time due to the weight of the trains and the vibration they cause when they rumble over the track. However, frac sand can hasten the deterioration when the sand particles fall into the void or spaces between the ballast rocks and accumulate in the ballast bed, Edil says. During a rainstorm, water adds to the mix to create a track-loosening muck. Over time, the cycle further deteriorates the ballast, which destabilizes the track. That causes railroads to lower their trains’ speed, and slower trains mean customers have to wait longer for their orders to be delivered. ... "Some of the freight railroads have slowed down to 10 mph to go through a badly deformed segment of rail so the trains don’t derail," says Edil.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 08:04 AM

27. Wyoming: Lawmakers studying safety of trains carrying oil

Lawmakers studying safety of trains carrying oil

Laura Hancock
Laura.Hancock@trib.com
@laurahancock
307-266-0581
12 hours ago

DOUGLAS -- If a train carrying oil through Fort Laramie derails, the volunteer fire department, which sometimes has as few as three able-bodied members, could be easily overwhelmed, said town Councilwoman Joyce Evans.

It could take hours for hazardous materials specialists from the state or the railroad company to arrive on scene, given Fort Laramie’s remoteness, Evans told members of the Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee, which met Tuesday at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy. ... “We need to find a way to make that (emergency preparedness) process better for the rural communities and areas where there aren’t people living in great concentrations,” said Evans, who said in addition to trains rolling through town, there is a station where oil is loaded onto train cars.

In recent years, an increased number of trains are transporting oil, which can be explosive in an accident. The committee is studying the issue and whether to sponsor a bill in the 2016 session to address safety.
....

Megan Taylor, of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said there have been five accidents of trains carrying oil this year in North America -- in Mount Carbon, West Virginia; Galena, Illinois; Heimdal, North Dakota; and two in Ontario, Canada. ... She gave lawmakers a copy of the Minnesota law, enacted in 2014, as an example of increased protections for communities. The law increases the number of inspectors at the state department of transportation, and requires railroad companies to submit disaster prevention plans to the state.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jun 16, 2015, 10:23 AM

28. Full NJ Senate to vote on rules for oil trains

Hat tip, Lackawanna484 at Trainorders: Eastern Railroad Discussion > NJ Senate to vote on new oil train rules

Full NJ Senate to vote on rules for oil trains

June 15, 2015, 12:19 PM
Last updated: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 7:46 AM
By JAMES M. O’NEILL
staff writer | The Record

A package of bills designed to improve the safe operation of freight trains that transport millions of gallons of volatile crude oil through North Jersey every week passed a state Senate committee Monday and now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

One of the bills would require the owner or operator of such trains to submit plans to the state Department of Environmental Protection detailing how the company would clean up any spill. The plans would have to be renewed every five years. ... The rail companies would also be required to offer training to emergency responders in each town along the rail route, and also provide the DEP with proof that the rail company has the financial means to clean up a spill and remove any damaged or disabled train equipment carrying hazardous materials.

Related: More work needed to shore up Oradell Reservoir bridge used by oil trains

The bill also tries to require more public notice of train cargo and movements to address what many in North Jersey have expressed deep concern about – the lack of information about the train shipments and the materials being sent along the lines. However, it’s not clear how successful this effort would be because new federal regulations make such information all but impossible for the public to obtain.

The bill would require each rail company to make available on its website information about the routes and volumes of cargo to the extent the information does not conflict with federal law. The information must be updated on a monthly basis. The websites should also provide an analysis of the consequences of a major spill along the rail line, the current level of catastrophic insurance coverage carried by each company and a copy of the company’s most current cleanup plan.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jun 18, 2015, 02:07 PM

29. Canadian Pacific asks judge not to approve Lac-Megantic derailment settlement

Canadian Pacific asks judge not to approve Lac-Megantic derailment settlement

The Canadian Press

Published on: June 17, 2015
Last Updated: June 17, 2015 4:36 PM MDT

SHERBROOKE, Que. – Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s lawyers asked a Quebec judge not to approve a proposed $430-million settlement fund for victims of the Lac-Megantic train derailment because they say its terms are unfair to the company.

Lawyer Alain Riendeau told Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas on Wednesday the terms severely limit CP’s ability to defend itself in court.

About 25 companies accused of responsibility in the July 2013 tragedy that killed 47 have put up a combined $431.5 million in a settlement fund, unanimously accepted by victims and creditors of the disaster during a June 8 meeting in Lac-Megantic, Que.

Dumas heard arguments Wednesday about whether he should accept the terms of the fund, which was created to compensate victims of the disaster.

See: Oil Firms Agree to Pay Millions in Compensation for Quebec Train Blast

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2015, 11:54 AM

30. Latest tank car, rail inspections in New York turn up 62 defects

Last edited Mon Jul 27, 2015, 12:28 PM - Edit history (1)

Latest tank car, rail inspections in New York turn up 62 defects

Rail News: Safety
7/24/2015

Another round of targeted tank car and rail inspections in New York found 62 defects, including one "critical" safety defect that required immediate corrective action, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. ... The inspections are part of the governor’s efforts to address the safety of crude-by-rail shipments. State and federal teams examined 524 tank cars and about 152 miles of track and 38 switches during the inspections.

Last week, inspection teams from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) inspected tank cars at Canadian Pacific's Kenwood Yard in Albany, CSX Transportation's Selkirk Yard in Albany County and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad's D&E Yard in Buffalo. They also inspected various CP and CSX mainlines.

The inspections focused on track, track hardware and tank car mechanical safety equipment, including wheels and brakes. The teams also performed hazardous materials inspections to ensure that equipment met regulations, including valves, valve closures, and placards that describe the cargo being shipped, and checked tank-car inspection and pressure test dates.

A critical defect was identified on a CSX mainline between Milton and Selkirk — a missing bolt on a continuously-welded rail joint — which was repaired immediately, state officials said in a press release. Inspectors also found one non-critical defect, a loose switch rod bolt. Critical defects identify important maintenance issues that must be addressed immediately, while non-critical rail defects must be repaired within 30 days.

More Defects Found and Corrected to Increase Public Safety

July 22, 2015
Albany

....
Operating Practice Inspections

Crescent and Mechanicville
– At Canadian Pacific sidings in Saratoga County operating practice inspectors checked for proper train securement. In Crescent, an empty northbound crude oil train was found to be properly secured. In Mechanicville, a loaded southbound ethanol train was found to be secure.

This is important. Many things had to fall into place for the incident at Lac-Mégantic to have occurred. Among the causes was failure to secure the train. The air pressure in the brakes bled down, and the train rolled down from its position at the top of a hill into Lac-Mégantic at the foot of a grade. When the train reached town, it was going too fast to make it around the sharp curve in the center of town. It derailed, and the crude oil started to burn.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 29, 2015, 11:36 AM

31. BNSF seeks to speed up to 60 mph through Miles City, Montana

BNSF seeks to speed up to 60 mph through Miles City

4 hours ago • By Tom Lutey



A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train carrying Bakken crude oil rolls past Billings.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe has a green light to speed through Miles City at up to 60 mph, and the town isn’t happy.

{Miles City mayor Butch Grenz} said he got a notice in the mail from BNSF several weeks ago that the track was classified by the Federal Railroad Administration for speeds up to 60 miles per hour. ... The mayor said he believes trains are speeding up because Berkshire Hathaway, which bought BNSF several years ago, is getting its money from the trains. Berkshire is the diversified holding company of Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett. ... “What you’re seeing is Mr. Buffett is a better businessman than the last owners of the railroad were,” Grenz said.

In the past few years, BNSF has invested more than $100 million in its southern line across Montana, which stretches from Glendive to Laurel, where the loads are transferred to Montana Rail Link to be hauled into the Idaho Panhandle.

BNSF has installed sidings long enough for a mile-long train to leave the mainline and keep rolling while another train passes by. This year, the railroad is relocating workers from Glendive and Forsyth to Laurel as it transitions to longer runs. ... But timing is everything on a single rail line with trains traveling in both directions. Speed is part of the BNSF equation, concurred Matt Jones, BNSF spokesman for Montana.

Note that while 60 mph might be the limit for freights in general, oil trains are subject to separate speed limits.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Aug 7, 2015, 12:15 PM

32. FRA Announces Final Rule to Prevent Unattended Trains from Rolling Away

FRA Announces Final Rule to Prevent Unattended Trains from Rolling Away

PRESS RELEASE NUMBER: FRA 14-15
CONTACT: FRA Public Affairs
PHONE: 202-493-6024
KEYWORDS: Securement final rule
ABSTRACT: Adds securement verification requirements to provide greater safety

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a final rule to prevent unattended trains that carry crude, ethanol, poisonous by inhalation (PIH), toxic by inhalation (TIH), and other highly flammable contents from rolling away. Railroad employees who are responsible for securing a train will now be permanently required to communicate with another qualified individual trained on the railroad’s securement requirements to verify that trains and equipment are properly secured.

“Today’s rule is part of the Department of Transportation’s comprehensive effort to bolster the safety of trains transporting crude oil and other highly flammable contents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Verifying that a train has been properly secured is a common sense solution to prevent accidents.”

The final rule will go into effect 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. Exterior locks on locomotives will also be required by March 1, 2017, and must be utilized when a locomotive has been left unattended.

Today’s rule requirements include:

•A qualified and trained railroad employee to properly secure the equipment and verification of the securement with a second trained and qualified employee;
•Additional communication, including job briefings among crew members responsible for the train securement;
•Properly installed and utilized exterior locks on locomotives;
•The setting of sufficient handbrakes;
•Removal of the train reverser; and
•The proper use of train air brakes.
....

To view a copy of the Final Rule, click HERE.

Federal Register Pages 47349 - 47386 {FR DOC # 2015-19002} Securement of Unattended Equipment

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Aug 7, 2015, 12:17 PM

33. Federal Railroad Administration to RRs: Notification of Crude Oil Trains to States Must Continue

Federal Railroad Administration to Railroads: Notification of Crude Oil Trains to States Must Continue

PRESS RELEASE NUMBER: FRA 13-15
CONTACT: FRA Public Affairs
PHONE: 202-493-6024
SUBJECT: Enforcement
KEYWORDS: crude oil, notification
ABSTRACT: Requirement remains in full force, will be made permanent


WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today sent a letter again instructing railroads transporting crude oil that they must continue to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Tribal Emergency Response Commissions (TERCs) of the expected movement of Bakken crude oil trains through individual states and tribal regions. Since May 2014, trains with 1,000,000 gallons or more of Bakken crude oil – approximately 35 tank cars – are subject to the notification.

“Transparency is a critical piece of the federal government’s comprehensive approach to safety,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “DOT is committed to making certain that states and local officials have the information they need to prepare for and respond to incidents involving hazardous materials, including crude oil. The Emergency Order that requires these notifications still stands, and we expect railroads to fully comply.”

The requirement, part of an Emergency Order issued in May 2014, also directs railroads to include estimated volumes of crude oil, the frequency of anticipated train traffic, and the route the crude oil will be transported. Contact information for at least one individual at the host railroad must be provided as well. In May, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it would make the notification requirements of the Emergency Order permanent.

“We strongly support transparency and public notification to the fullest extent possible,” said FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Railroads transporting crude oil must continue to provide the information required by the Emergency Order to SERCs and to update notifications in a timely manner. FRA will continue with random spot checks and regular compliance audits to ensure that states, local communities, and first responders have the information necessary to respond to a possible accident. FRA will take enforcement actions as necessary to ensure compliance.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation (DOT), released its comprehensive rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and 21st century electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes that activate simultaneously on all tank cars, reduce the distance and time needed for a train to stop, and keep more tank cars on the track if a train does derail.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Oct 9, 2015, 09:48 AM

34. Officials: Broken rail missed on 2 inspections caused fiery West Va. train derailment

Officials: Broken rail missed on 2 inspections caused fiery West Va. train derailment

Officials: Broken rail missed on 2 inspections caused fiery West Va. train derailment

Source: Associated Press via Richmond Times-Dispatch

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2015 9:33 am
Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. (AP) — Federal investigators say a broken rail that wasn't found on two previous inspections led to a fiery oil train derailment in southern West Virginia in February.

The Federal Railroad Administration on Friday announced the results of its investigation into the Feb. 16 derailment during a snowstorm in Mount Carbon.

The FRA says the broken rail resulted from a vertical split head rail defect. The problem was missed by CSX Corp. and a contractor on two separate inspections in the months leading up the accident.

The CSX train was carrying 3 million gallons of Bakken crude oil. Twenty-seven of the train's 109 cars derailed. Twenty cars leaked crude oil.

Friday, October 9, 2015
Feds say broken rail caused Fayette County train derailment
By Lori Kersey, Weekend Editor



Gazette-Mail file photos
Derailed train cars burn on the evening of Feb. 16, 2015, after a CSX oil train derailed in Fayette County. On Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration said the derailment was caused by a broken rail, which was missed in two inspections in the months before the derailment.



Emergency officials walk by the site where fire from a CSX oil train derailment destroyed a Fayette County man’s truck, house and garage near Mount Carbon on Feb. 16, 2015.

February's derailment of a CSX oil train in Fayette County, which sparked a fire that destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents, was caused by a broken rail, an investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration has shown.

The FRA, the lead agency in the response to and investigation of the derailment, has planned a 9:30 a.m. news conference to discuss the results of its investigation.

The CSX train, hauling 107 tank car loads of Bakken Shale crude oil from North Dakota to a transportation terminal in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed in Adena Village near Mount Carbon and Deepwater around 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, setting one house on fire and causing numerous tank cars to burn and explode.

The broken rail was the result of a vertical split head rail defect, which CSX and its contractor, Sperry Rail Service, missed twice in the months leading up to the incident, according to the FRA.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 01:51 PM

36. Federal Railroad Administration Issues Final Rule to Improve Rail Flaw Detection {January 2014}

Transportation

Federal Railroad Administration Issues Final Rule to Improve Rail Flaw Detection

By Patrick Ambrosio
pambrosio@bna.com

Jan. 24 — The Federal Railroad Administration published a final rule Jan. 24 to improve the process of detecting flaws in the nation's rail infrastructure (79 Fed. Reg. 4,234). ... The rule, which is effective March 25, sets minimum qualification requirements for rail flaw detection equipment operators and revises requirements for the frequency of rail inspections. It also revises regulatory requirements for recordkeeping related to rail safety inspections.

The final rule implements Section 403 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (Pub. L. No. 110-432), which required the Transportation Department to conduct a study of rail track issues to determine if track inspection intervals and track remedial action requirements needed to be amended. The FRA completed that study in 2011 and consulted the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee to address the recommendations of that study.
....

Training, Inspection Frequency

The FRA's final rule establishes a new provision requiring all rail flaw detection tests to be performed by qualified operators who completed documented training programs. The final rule establishes minimum training, evaluation and documentation requirements for equipment operators who are qualified. ... It will be the responsibility of the owner of the rail track to ensure that any company hired to provide rail flaw detection is in compliance with the new training and qualification requirements, according to the FRA.
....

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington at pambrosio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The Jan. 24 final rule is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-01-24/pdf/2014-01387.pdf.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Nov 12, 2015, 02:51 PM

37. Report questions safety of rusting, crumbling railroad bridges

Last edited Mon Nov 16, 2015, 10:28 AM - Edit history (1)

Transportation

Report questions safety of rusting, crumbling railroad bridges

By Ashley Halsey III November 10

After a weekend in which two freight trains derailed, spilling their contents, an advocacy group’s report released Tuesday says bridges that carry dozens of those types of trains each day are in dangerous disrepair.

Although neither weekend derailment involved a bridge, one resulted in the leak of almost 20,000 gallons of ethanol into the Mississippi River. Fear that a train could topple from a decrepit bridge to pollute a river or marshland led the Waterkeeper Alliance to begin inspecting rail bridges.

{Crews work to clear up after 2 Wisconsin train derailments}

The report says “citizen inspectors” who visited 250 rail bridges in 15 states found that 114 of them had deteriorated badly. In some cases, the report says, the inspectors were present when oil trains crossed the bridges and “observed flexing, slumping and vibrations that caused concrete to crumble.”

The report calls for stronger federal oversight of the railroads that own an estimated 100,000 bridges in the United States. Congress in 2008 mandated that railroads inspect their bridges annually, subject to review by federal regulators.

The article did not say what training one had to receive to be qualified as a "citizen inspector" of bridges.

Oil trains pose risks to aging bridges, report finds

By Brian Nearing on November 10, 2015 at 12:37 PM

Five aging railroad bridges in New York _ including one over the Normanskill in Albany County _ are part of a nationwide study of aging bridges at risk from the pounding being given by massive oil trains.

Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, Riverkeeper and a national network of Waterkeeper organizations released a the report, entitled DEADLY CROSSING: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains that examined 250 bridges in 15 states where oil trains are running.

That report found “serious concern” on 114 bridges, with visible signs “of significant stress and decay, such as rotted, cracked, or crumbling foundations, and loose or broken beams. Waterkeepers were also present when crude oil trains passed and observed flexing, slumping and vibrations that crumbled concrete.”

Regarding the qualifications of "citizen inspectors" of bridges:

Environment groups' study calls attention to rail bridge safety

By KIMBERLY CAUVEL Nov 15, 2015

kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com
@Kimberly_SVH
360-416-2199,
http://www.Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

Environment groups from throughout the country say government oversight, industry transparency and safety standards fall short when it comes to railroad bridges that in recent years have seen an increase in the number of oil trains that cross them.

A study released Tuesday titled “Deadly Crossings: Neglected Bridges and Exploding Oil Trains,” urges government and industry officials to take action to prevent derailments such as the one that killed 47 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July 2013 or the one that spilled burning oil into the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia, earlier this year. ... The study comes from RE Sources in Bellingham, which collaborated with international environment groups ForestEthics and the Waterkeeper Alliance to develop the report.
....

Between July and September, the groups that worked on the report canvased 15 states, inspected 251 bridges, and found deficiencies in 114 of them, according to the report. ... The report acknowledges that while those who did the inspections are not engineers, they documented cracks, missing pieces, rust and deterioration of foundations that were visible to the naked eye.

The Association of American Railroads criticized the report in a Nov. 10 statement, calling it “misguided and misleading.” ... “Evaluating rail bridges is a complicated exercise that requires specialized training. By its own admission, the report relies solely on anecdotal visual observations by untrained Waterkeeper members rather than professional bridge safety experts to draw conclusions about rail bridges,” the association said.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Dec 2, 2015, 09:43 AM

38. Oil train safety concerns cast shadow over cross-border rail deal

Business

November 30, 2015

Oil train safety concerns cast shadow over cross-border rail deal

By Curtis Tate
ctate@mcclatchydc.com

WATERTOWN, Wis. – Concerns about the safety of crude oil trains loom over a proposed rail takeover that would create the largest rail system in North America.

Earlier this month, Alberta-based Canadian Pacific made public its plan to acquire Virginia-based Norfolk Southern. The $28.4 billion deal would need to be approved by company shareholders and federal regulators, a process that could take at least 18 months.

The railroads are key players in the transportation of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to East Coast refineries. Currently, Canadian Pacific transfers the shipments to Norfolk Southern at Chicago. The combined company could offer a seamless path the entire distance to the East Coast.

Though both companies have so far escaped the most serious crude by rail incidents involving spills, fires and mass evacuations, they are likely to face fresh scrutiny of their safety practices and relationships with communities if they agree to a deal.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Dec 2, 2015, 09:45 AM

39. Oil trains raise alarm for Denver residents in growing neighborhoods

Denver and the West

Oil trains raise alarm for Denver residents in growing neighborhoods

Advocates and some City Council members worry about danger posed by sharp increase in railroad traffic of flammable liquids

By Jon Murray
The Denver Post
303-954-1405
jmurray@denverpost.com
@JonMurray

Posted: 12/01/2015 04:05:44 PM MST
Updated: 12/02/2015 01:36:35 AM MST

Peering through four panes of insulating glass, it's not the noise that bothers Don Cohen as a daily parade of freight trains passes 50 feet outside his condo. He and some Riverfront Park neighbors are troubled by what they're seeing on the tracks more frequently. Tanker trains carrying crude oil and other flammable liquids — reflecting a shift in energy trends — rumble past the gleaming high-rise condo and apartment buildings several times a week, he says.

Those tankers pass near other Denver neighborhoods, too, old and new, upscale and hardscrabble. Highways and railroads box in some areas, with only one way out if disaster were to strike.

The trains also travel near the city's major sports venues and Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, raising fears among some about what might happen in a fiery derailment or other accident — however small the chances might be.

Appeals by Cohen and others to city officials for increased emergency planning have met with mixed success. ... The issue prompted a rare budget amendment dispute in early November between Mayor Michael Hancock and a majority of the City Council, led by at-large member Debbie Ortega. Hancock rejected their amendment to fund a $250,000 outside safety study. Instead, he ordered up a working group, led by Fire Chief Eric Tade, that by July 1 will examine what more the city might do to reduce risks.
....

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, jmurray@denverpost.com or @JonMurray

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 10:04 AM

41. First responders often unprepared for derailments

Home News  Environment

DISPATCH INVESTIGATION

First responders often unprepared for derailments

Over the last 20 years, crude oil spills from trains have grown in both frequency and size. The size and number of spills per year began growing even more quickly in the last five years, as drillers have fracked oil fields around the country.

Wrong Track

See more on the Wrong Track series, videos, photos and interactive graphics.

About the series

As domestic oil production has grown in the United States, longer, heavier trains that carry volatile crude from Bakken shale fields to coastal refineries are taking a toll on the nation’s rail network. When those trains derail, the fallout can be catastrophic.

Sunday: Dangerous cargo    

Monday: Inspection gaps    

Today: Emergency response

By Rick Rouan & Laura Arenschield The Columbus Dispatch • Tuesday December 22, 2015 5:26 AM
rrouan@dispatch.com
larenschield@dispatch.com

Trains carrying hazardous materials — from chlorine and hydrochloric acid to ethanol and crude oil — roll through neighborhoods and business districts nationwide every day. ... Most of them go unnoticed, and nearly all reach their final destination without incident. ... But when they crash, the consequences can be dire. About 1.4 million Ohioans live within a half-mile of rail lines where Bakken crude is transported.

State officials say they have no specific plans to handle derailments of trains carrying Bakken crude oil. First responders in small, remote towns sometimes aren’t equipped to handle toxic spills and explosions. And big-city fire departments aren’t always trained to handle the most-dangerous chemicals.

{>> Wrong Track: Dispatch series on trains carrying volatile crude oil}

The boom in domestic oil production and a too-small pipeline network have pushed most of the crude oil drilled in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana onto the nation’s rail network, where it’s shipped through small towns and big cities to coastal refineries.

A Dispatch analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data found that problems with worn-down tracks and mistakes made by train operators and others plague U.S. railroads.
....

Dispatch Library Director Julie Fulton contributed to this report.

rrouan@dispatch.com
@RickRouan
larenschield@dispatch.com
@larenschield

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Dec 30, 2015, 10:40 AM

42. Still no final report 2 years after fiery Casselton oil crash

Still no final report 2 years after fiery Casselton oil crash

By Adrian Glass-Moore on Dec 29, 2015 at 9:39 p.m.

CASSELTON, N.D.--Two years after a fiery oil train derailment in the eastern North Dakota town of Casselton, federal investigators still have not released their final report on what caused it.

Casselton Mayor Lee Anderson said he thought the National Transportation Safety Board's report would be released sooner.

The agency has indicated that a bad train car axle probably caused the crash, but a full report--including analysis, conclusions and a probable cause statement--will come out "at a later date," the agency said in April.
....

The derailment involving two BNSF trains on Dec. 30, 2013, a half-mile west of Casselton, drew national attention. A westbound train carrying grain derailed and struck an eastbound train carrying crude oil. Oil cars exploded and sent thick black smoke into the air. Government officials told Casselton's 2,400 residents to evacuate. No one was injured.
....

Adrian Glass-Moore
Readers are encouraged to reach Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599 or aglassmoore@forumcomm.com with comments, criticisms and tips. He joined The Forum as its night reporter in 2014.

aglassmoore@forumcomm.com

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jan 13, 2016, 06:59 PM

43. Crude by rail down, but officials still bracing for danger on tracks

Crude by rail down, but officials still bracing for danger on tracks

Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:15 pm

Alex Rohr

Bakken crude oil shipments by rail have fallen with oil prices, but danger along Virginia’s rails has not gone away, members of the Railroad Safety and Security Task Force said.

The task force called by Governor Terry McAuliffe after the CSX Transportation Inc. train derailed in downtown Lynchburg almost two years ago considers terrorist attacks among many threats related to the hazardous materials running through the commonwealth.

“The threat environment’s changed. Everybody’s seen that overseas, you’ve seen it here at home. The rail environment is a threat vector. It’s something the railroads worry about,” Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Adam Thiel said.

Attacks on an office in San Bernardino, California, in December and in Paris in November highlighted potential domestic terrorist threats. The state already had considered rail a potential target as referenced in the task force’s May report. The report named rail safety inspection, trespassing reduction and infrastructure protection as the top three actions the state could take in preventing rail incidents.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Feb 10, 2016, 10:55 AM

44. Maine rail cargo secrecy law bypassed public access, safety defenses

Hat tip, jpak: Maine rail cargo secrecy law bypassed public access, safety defenses

Maine rail cargo secrecy law bypassed public access, safety defenses

By Dave Sherwood, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Posted Feb. 10, 2016, at 6:15 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 10, 2016, at 6:39 a.m.

After a runaway oil train killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, just miles from the Maine border in 2013, Mainers demanded to know more about the state’s railways. ... How much oil was moving through Maine? Which companies shipped it and along what routes? Was the government doing enough to keep communities safe?

At about the same time, the rail industry began its own campaign to keep much of that information secret, according to interviews and correspondence with regulators. ... Those efforts paid off last year when state officials — who for years had reported the volumes of monthly crude oil shipments — stopped making them public in October. ... The new law not only blocked the public’s right to know what dangers lurked on Maine’s train tracks, but its passage followed a haphazard process in which lawmakers repeatedly ignored red flags and safeguards designed to prioritize the public’s right-to-know over private business interests.

The bill, An Act Regarding the Confidentiality of Railroad Carrier Cargo, passed into law with no debate and over a forceful veto from Gov. Paul LePage. Its sponsor, former Rep. Mike Shaw, D-Standish, presented it as a commonsense compromise: If state officials promised to make confidential shipments of hazardous materials, he said, then railroads — which had argued such details could be used by competitors to undercut their business — would volunteer to share them.

“I thought it would facilitate communication between first responders and the railroads,” Shaw said four months after the bill took effect. ... But the spare, 80-word exemption did not require railroads to share information with first responders. Instead, it simply forced the state to keep those details secret from the public.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Feb 11, 2016, 01:47 PM

45. Washington state transportation commission adopts crude-by-rail safety rules

Rail News: Safety
2/11/2016

Washington transportation commission adopts CBR safety rules

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has adopted new safety rules to address an increase in crude-by-rail (CBR) shipments in the state.

The rules mandate inspections of private grade crossings located on CBR routes; authorize "first-class" cities to opt into the UTC's crossing inspection program; and require railroads that haul crude to provide financial verification that they have the means to address a "reasonable" worst case oil spill, commission officials said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

Last year, the state enacted a law that funds additional federally certified rail inspectors, increases regulatory fees for railroads that haul crude and allows state inspectors to enter private shippers’ property without a federal escort. To take effect March 11, the new rules are the result of that legislation, UTC officials said. ... The commission crafted the new rules with help from industry and environmental stakeholders, and feedback from the public.

"{We are taking} steps towards ensuring our railways are as safe as possible, but there is still work to do to safeguard the people and environment of Washington," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "The improvements made today to our state’s rail safety program show that we are serious about rail safety and will take what action we can on a state level to address the dangers posed by oil trains."

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Mar 2, 2016, 02:35 PM

46. NTSB report: Broken rail likely caused 2014 Lynchburg train derailment

NTSB report: Broken rail likely caused 2014 Lynchburg train derailment

Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 11:42 am

Staff reports

A federal report released Wednesday points to a broken rail as the probable cause of the April 2014 train derailment in downtown Lynchburg.

More specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board's railroad accident brief says the probable cause was a "broken rail caused by a reverse detail fracture with evidence of rolling contact fatigue."

A previous report released in August 2015 showed rail problems near where a CSX Transportation Inc. train derailed in downtown Lynchburg on April 30, 2014, sending three oil tankers into the James River and igniting a massive blaze.

A rail defect was found the day before 17 cars of the 104-car train derailed, and the report mentioned a “rail failure” found in January 2014 near the point of derailment.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:36 AM

47. Minnesota legislators want railroads to open books on emergency response

Minnesota legislators want railroads to open books on emergency response

Local officials want to be better prepared for oil train derailments

By Maya Rao Star Tribune
maya.rao@startribune.com
612-673-4210

April 7, 2016 — 10:07pm



Glen Stubbe

Railroads like the Union Pacific, whose freight train was in the yard in Shakopee on Wednesday, are asked to disclose more records.

The emergency management director for St. Paul held up a sheet of paper covered with a large black square. It was a redacted record he had requested to learn how railroad companies would respond to a potential oil train derailment in his city. ... “The good news is that it’s double-sided,” Rick Larkin, the emergency official, joked during a legislative hearing at the State Capitol this week as he turned over the paper to reveal another black square.

Larkin and emergency responders around Minnesota are intensifying pressure on railroad companies to release the information that towns and counties say they need to prepare for a crash involving Bakken crude oil and other hazardous liquids that travel over the state’s nearly 4,500 miles of track.

Oil train safety has emerged as a major issue in Minnesota, particularly as so many trains make their way through or near heavily populated areas. An oil train derailment in West Virginia last year created a massive and deadly fireball that at times soared 20 stories into the air, renewing emergency response concerns around the country. Also last year, a train hauling 109 tanker cars derailed outside the town of Heimdal, N.D. Ten of the cars caught fire, scorching the surrounding land and sending flames shooting into the sky.

Minnesota emergency responders are asking legislators to force railroad companies to turn over disaster planning records, saying they need to coordinate a more detailed response plan in the event of a hazardous explosion.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Apr 15, 2016, 07:45 AM

48. Little progress on rail safety in wake of Lac Mégantic

Opinion / Commentary

Little progress on rail safety in wake of Lac Mégantic

Are Canada's rail-safety regulators in the pocket of a regulation-averse industry?

By: Bruce Campbell Published on Thu Apr 14 2016

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said recently that rail safety is his number one priority. The federal budget pledged an extra $143 million over three years to, among other things, “support new and expanded activities to strengthen oversight and enforcement” of rail safety.

While this is a laudable step, fundamental problems with the rail regulatory regime remain. Toronto mayor John Tory and 17 counsellors raised some of these in a letter to the minister.

Not mentioned was the issue of regulatory capture, which gained widespread attention during the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. It is generally accepted that a major cause of the crisis was that regulators were in the pocket of a regulation-averse industry.

Capture exists where regulation is systematically directed to benefit the private interest of the regulated industry at the expense of the public interest. Characteristically, industry is able to shape the regulations governing its operations. It regularly blocks or delays new regulations, and seeks to remove or dilute existing regulations deemed be adversely affecting profits.

There is considerable evidence that regulatory capture of the rail regulatory regime played a role in the 2013 Lac Mégantic rail disaster.
....

Bruce Campbell is a visiting fellow at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, on leave from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He received the 2015 Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Jun 6, 2016, 11:01 AM

49. Oil-by-rail safety concerns likely to reignite after Oregon derailment

Last edited Mon Jun 6, 2016, 11:33 AM - Edit history (1)

The article refers to PTC, or positive train control. Unless there's something I don't understand, that's a red herring here. I can't see what effect PTC would have had on this incident.

Oil-by-rail safety concerns likely to reignite after Oregon derailment

By Reuters Media Today at 8:35 a.m.

A Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames along Oregon's scenic Columbia River gorge on Friday in the first major rail accident involving crude in a year. ... While no injuries were reported, the train remained engulfed in flames six hours after the derailment, officials said. The accident has already renewed calls for stronger regulation to guard communities against crude-by-rail accidents.
....

The crude was bought by TrailStone Inc's U.S. Oil & Refining Co and bound for its refinery in Tacoma, Washington, some 200 miles (322 km) northwest of the derailment, the company said.
....

The incident comes eight months after lawmakers extended a deadline until the end of 2018 for rail operators to implement advanced safety technology, known as positive train control, or PTC, which safety experts say can avoid derailments and other major accidents. ... The measures included phasing out older tank cars, adding electronic braking systems and imposing speed limits, all meant to reduce the frequency and severity of oil train crashes.

The tank cars involved in Friday's crash were CPC-1232 models, which elected officials have raised concerns about in the past even though they are an upgrade from older models considered less safe. On Friday, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon repeated his call from last year for federal officials to look into whether the newer cars were safe enough.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Oct 2, 2016, 02:32 PM

50. New Directive Targets Crude-by-Rail Safety

Sep 29

New Directive Targets Crude-by-Rail Safety

Posted by Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg

... {W}e know that safety is something that has to be addressed every single day. And that is why we have said from the beginning that when we see a need for us to act to improve safety, we will not hesitate. ... Today, we took another action – FRA issued a directive to owners of certain tank cars with possible flaws.

The potential flaws are in the welds at the bottom of the tank car where two components allow for product to be offloaded. Some of the welds do not meet federal safety regulations or industry specifications. ... The good news is these flawed welds have been found in only a small portion of the U.S. tank car fleet that were manufactured by American Railcar Industries and ACF Industries between 2009 and 2015.

These tank cars – DOT 111s – are used to transport a wide variety of products, everything from crude oil to corn syrup. ... The directive instructs tank car owners to take immediate steps to determine if one of these tank cars is in their fleets and, if so, to inspect and repair those tank cars if necessary.

Effective today, tank car owners must:
•Identify within 30 days whether they hold any of these tank cars in their fleets and report those to FRA.
•Prior to any of these tank cars being put into service, visually inspect to verify there is no visible leak from the welds, and confirm that the tank car is in safe condition for transportation.
•Put the identified tank cars through ultrasonic and surface inspections to fully examine the welds. If flaws are detected, the tank cars must be taken out of service immediately and repaired.

Tank cars with confirmed flaws that transport hazmat must be tested and fixed faster than tank cars that transport other products. The tank cars that are in storage currently and have flaws have more time.

Railworthiness Directive for Certain Railroad Tank Cars Equipped with Bottom Outlet Valve Assembly and Constructed by American Railcar Industries and ACF Industries.

30 Sep 2016
NUMBER: 2016-01
URL:
TYPE: Railroad Safety
SUBJECT: Accident Reduction
ABSTRACT: On September 30, 2016, FRA issued a Railworthiness Directive (Directive or RWD) to all owners of Department of Transportation (DOT) specification 111 general purpose tank cars. This document announces FRA’s issuance of the RWD and its availability on FRA’s website.

Download PDF Document

Rail agency alerts tank car owners to potential defects

By Amy Dalrymple on Sep 30, 2016 at 3:55 p.m.

WASHINGTON - The Federal Railroad Administration has identified potential flaws in some DOT-111 tank cars that carry crude oil and other hazardous liquids and is asking owners to take immediate action.

The FRA said it has identified potential defects in a small portion of the U.S. tank car fleet manufactured by American Railcar Industries and ACF Industries between 2009 and 2015 that could cause leaks of hazardous liquids.
....

Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com or (701) 580-6890.

New FRA Directive Targets Crude-by-Rail Safety

By Tammy Waitt - September 30, 2016

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Oct 2, 2016, 02:52 PM

51. 2 ND rail inspectors receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration

2 ND rail inspectors receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration

By Bo Evans | Posted: Wed 6:59 PM, Sep 21, 2016 | Updated: Wed 8:46 PM, Sep 21, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. - Two rail inspectors hired by the North Dakota Public Service Commission last year have now received their certification from the Federal Railroad Administration and will start scrutinizing railroad tracks and rail cars.

Commissioners say it's an important step in preventing serious accidents.

“From the wheels to the brakes, to the connectors, where they connect the whole train. All of these pieces and components could lead, in just a small way, a small defect could become a significant problem in short order and lead to a derailment” said Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota Public Service Commission.

One inspector will look at the rail lines along the energy routes. The other will inspect safety equipment on cars.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has inspectors stationed in Bismarck as well.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Mar 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

52. NTSB releases dashcam videos of December 30, 2013, Casselton, North Dakota, oil train derailment

Last edited Wed Mar 29, 2017, 10:35 AM - Edit history (1)

The first video is from a westbound grain train. It starts out with the westbound train going 36 mph. Then the train starts to slow down. One of the cars has derailed, and the brakes have gone on automatically.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be much of a problem. Except, coming from the west is an oil train. The derailed car in the westbound train has spilled onto the track occupied by the eastbound oil train. The oil train's lead unit derails, and some of its train follows.

There's another post, by "Eugene," either in this thread or another thread at DU, that links to a report that the derailment was the result of a broken axle. I'll find Eugene's post.

ETA: here it is: Defective axle blamed for 2013 fiery North Dakota derailment

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 30, 2017, 02:31 PM

53. Wilmington News Journal - Delaware Online: Rail safety questioned as fuel shipments likely to go up

Warning: pop-ups galore, and annoying autoplay video.

Rail safety questioned as fuel shipments likely to go up

Karl Baker, The News Journal Published 12:13 p.m. ET May 26, 2017 | Updated 1:17 p.m. ET May 26, 2017

As more train cars carrying volatile fuel are likely to roll into Delaware over the next year, concerns are growing over how well the state's freight tracks are inspected for derailment-causing flaws.

Delaware is one of three states that are home to both a large oil refinery and also do not employ inspectors to oversee railroads, the News Journal has learned.

Instead, the job of regulating railroad safety is left to federal officials, whose resources are spread thin across the tens of thousands of miles of rail throughout the country. In 2016, those regulators conducted a handful of inspections on Delaware tracks.

While far fewer derailments occur today than a generation ago, freight trains are transporting more dangerous products than the foodstuffs that dominated rail shipments in previous decades, said Allen Zarembski, a railroad engineering professor at the University of Delaware.
....

Contact Karl Baker at kbaker@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2329. Follow him on Twitter @kbaker6.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 5, 2017, 01:56 PM

54. North Dakota may halt rail inspections aimed at derailments

North Dakota may halt rail inspections aimed at derailments

JAMES MACPHERSON, ASSOCIATED PRESSJuly 3, 2017 Updated: July 3, 2017 2:17pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The end of the line may be in sight for a North Dakota safety program aimed at lowering the risk of disastrous train derailments involving the state's crude oil.

The pilot program, which includes two rail safety inspectors and a manager to supplement inspections by the Federal Railroad Administration, or FRA, is halfway through its four-year run this month and likely will be scrapped in two years, said House Majority Leader Al Carlson and his Republican Senate counterpart, Rich Wardner.

They said the program duplicates federal and industry inspections programs and is not needed as the bulk of the state's crude oil is now moved by pipelines. ... "I think it will run its course, and when it's done, my gut feeling is we won't re-up it," Wardner said.

Carlson said the pilot program was an overreaction following a spate of accidents involving North Dakota crude in the U.S. and Canada, including one in Casselton, the hometown of then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who supported the idea. ... "Every other program — once you start them, everybody wants to keep them. That's government," Carlson said.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Nov 11, 2017, 02:15 PM

55. National Academy Study Touts Oil-by-Rail Safety But Supports Weakening Regulations

National Academy Study Touts Oil-by-Rail Safety But Supports Weakening Regulations

By Justin Mikulka • Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 11:59

A new study by the National Academy of Sciences concludes that the rail industry should do more to improve the safety of transporting oil and ethanol by rail, which includes addressing track safety and rail tank cars. Both of these are well-known safety issues.

However, the study, “Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases in a Changing U.S. Energy Landscape,” also cites a separate NAS study “A Review of the Department of Transportation Plan for Analyzing and Testing Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes” and notes that after reviewing available data, the researchers were unable to “make a conclusive statement” on the safety technology known as electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.* This is where things get interesting.

“The committee was unable to make a conclusive statement about the emergency performance of ECP brakes relative to other braking systems on the basis of the results of testing and analysis provided by U.S. DOT.”

Eliminating the current regulations to require ECP brakes on oil trains beginning in 2021 has been the top priority of the rail industry and its lobbyists since the regulations were finalized in 2015. This study must have been well received in the corporate boardrooms of the rail industry.

As we have noted on DeSmog, the rail industry has already tried multiple methods of removing this regulation: pushing the Senate to do it, including new research requirements in the FAST Act of 2015, and introducing a new bill in the Senate designed to attack the regulation.
....

*Updated 11/10/17: This article initially noted that the NAS study “Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases in a Changing U.S. Energy Landscape,” was unable to “make a conclusive statement” on ECP braking. That quote was actually referring to a separate NAS study “A Review of the Department of Transportation Plan for Analyzing and Testing Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes” that was unable to make a conclusive statement. We regret this error.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 03:19 PM

57. Canada Transport Ministry Fast-Tracks Crude Oil Rail Car Phase-Out

Canada Transport Ministry Fast-Tracks Crude Oil Rail Car Phase-Out

By Irina Slav - Sep 20, 2018, 9:30 AM CDT

Canada’s transport ministry will fast-track a phase-out of two models of rail cars for the transportation of crude oil and condensate as oil exports by rail hit record levels, the Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said in a statement.

The phase-out will involve all DOT 111 tank cars and unjacketed CPC 1232 cars—cars without thermal protection—and will take place by November this year, instead of April 2020, for unjacketed CPC 1232 cars that carry crude, and by January 2019, instead of April 2025, for DOT 111 cars and COPC 1232s for condensate shipment.

The move has been prompted by the strong increase in oil and condensate shipments by rail as Canada’s pipeline network is insufficient to handle the increased production, which necessitated, as per the statement the removal of the “least crash-resistant rail tank cars for crude oil and other dangerous goods” sooner than initially planned.

Canadian crude-by-rail exports jumped to a record in June 2018, exceeding 200,000 bpd for the first time and nearly doubling compared to June last year, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) said in its latest crude oil exports data, in a sign that Canadian producers are increasingly using the railroad option to move their crude to market because pipeline capacity out of Canada is full.
....

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Canada changing rules for crude oil rail shipments

September 24, 2018

Oil-carrying rail tank cars that are the least crash-resistant will be removed from Canadian tracks 17 months sooner than originally planned under a new move by the Canadian federal government. ... Last week, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the federal government has moved up the deadline for removing from the rails some of the most dangerous rail tank cars carrying crude oil and other hazardous materials, Kallanish Energy reports.

CPC 1232 tank cars that are unjacketed or do not have heat protection layers will be barred from carrying crude oil, effective Nov. 1. The deadline had been April 1, 2020. ... That directive affects 21,367 unjacketed CPC 1232 rail rank cars, Transport Canada said. ... In addition, the new order phases out DOT 111 tank cars and unjacketed CPC 1232 tank cars that carry condensates. ... That deadline moves from April 30, 2025, to Jan. 1, 2019.

The changes were part of Protective Directive 39. “We are amending those timelines because we want to use the safest possible containers to transport dangerous goods as soon as possible,” Garneau told the Canadian media. ... “Phasing out these least crash-resistant tank cars as soon as possible is another concrete step our government is taking to enhance the safety of communities along our railway lines and to ensure rail continues to provide a reliable method of transportation for our products and commodities,” he said in a statement. ... On Nov. 1, 2016, Canada had banned DOT 111 tank cars from crude oil service.

Garneau also announced an industry-led working group would be established to make recommendations to Transport Canada on how to speed up the timeline for phasing out CPC 1232 tank cars with a layer of heat protection. ... Canada’s decision to ban certain rail tank cars comes five years after the deadly 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. A total of 47 people died after a runaway train derailed and exploded.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 03:35 PM

58. Trump officials roll back Obama oil train safety rule

Hat tip, Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin:

Trump officials roll back Obama oil train safety rule

The Trump administration on Monday repealed a mandate that would have required trains carrying crude oil to use special brakes with new technology.

The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said it undertook a congressionally mandated analysis of the provision in a 2015 regulation under which oil trains would have had to use electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.

“The department's updated Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) shows that the expected costs of requiring ECP brakes would be higher than the expected benefits of the requirement,” PHMSA said.

The mandate to phase out traditional air brakes for crude oil use was part of a comprehensive rule that the Obama administration wrote in 2015 to try to improve the safety of crude oil trains.

Crude by rail has increased dramatically in recent years due to a boost in domestic and Canadian oil production. But with the increased traffic have come major crashes and explosions, like one in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47, one in 2013 in North Dakota and one in Oregon in 2016.

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/408125-trump-admin-rolls-back-obama-oil-train-safety-rule

Trump officials roll back Obama oil train safety rule

BY TIMOTHY CAMA - 09/24/18 02:35 PM EDT

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 03:41 PM

59. North Dakota Regulators Mull Relaxing Oil Train Shipment Rules

North Dakota Regulators Mull Relaxing Oil Train Shipment Rules

September 20, 2018

North Dakota regulators are considering relaxing rules that require shippers to remove the most volatile gases from oil before it’s loaded onto train cars. ... The rules, which were fought by the energy industry, took effect in 2015 and are aimed at making the state’s crude oil safer for transportation following several explosive train derailments, including one five years ago in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission last week that the industry has conducted 60,000 vapor pressure tests since the regulations took effect and that the vast majority of tests have been within the state’s limits.

But he said companies sometimes struggle to meet the requirements in early and late winter, or when the temperature is between 20 degrees and 40 degrees, the Bismarck Tribune reported. ... In those cases, companies are required to adjust their equipment or take other steps to condition the oil.

Current rules require North Dakota crude to have vapor pressure below 13.7 pounds per square inch, which is less than the 14.7 psi threshold that is recognized national standards as being stable.
....

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2018, 02:02 PM

60. PHMSA pulls ECP brake requirement

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 9/25/2018

Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

PHMSA pulls ECP brake requirement

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday rescinded a mandate that would have required crude-oil trains to use electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking systems. ... The PHMSA took the action after it conducted a congressionally mandated review of the regulation's impact, and determined that the expected costs of requiring ECP brakes would be "significantly higher" than the expected benefits, according to a PHMSA press release. ... Rescinding the mandate does not affect the ability of railroads to use ECP brakes, PHMSA officials said.

ECP brakes issue electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release brakes throughout the length of a train instead of each car applying brakes individually — a system some consider more effective in emergency situations.

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act required further analysis of the ECP brake requirements, including physical testing, to see how much more effective ECP brakes are in comparison to other brake systems. ... The FAST Act also required the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to determine whether the ECP brake requirements were justified based on costs and benefits. The updated analysis — which incorporated new findings from the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) testing of ECP braking systems — determined that costs outweighed the benefits based on current economic conditions.

Efforts to repeal the implementation of ECP braking systems have been underway since the Trump administration took office in January 2017. In December 2017, the USDOT repealed a May 2015 FRA rulemaking that would have required the installation of ECP braking systems. ... In October 2016, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended that the USDOT acknowledge uncertainty in its revised economic analysis of ECP brakes, and collect data on railroads' use of the systems. Industry stakeholders — such as the Association of American Railroads — had claimed that the USDOT initially overestimated the benefits.

PHMSA Rescinds ECP Brake Mandate After RIA Finds Costs Outweigh Benefits

Monday, September 24, 2018
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today finalized amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations which remove the requirement, while still allowing, for certain High Hazard Flammable Unit Trains (HHFUT) to operate using electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking systems. The Department's action is based on a Congressional requirement to conduct an updated Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA). The Department's analysis shows that the expected costs of requiring ECP brakes would be significantly higher than the expected benefits of the requirement. This regulatory change does not affect the ability of a railroad to implement ECP brakes.

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act required further analysis of the ECP brake requirements, including physical testing, to improve general knowledge and understanding of how much more effective ECP brakes are in comparison to other brake systems. It also required DOT to determine whether the ECP brake requirements are justified based on the expected costs and benefits. The updated RIA incorporated new findings from ECP brake testing conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration, which were reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. The updated RIA also incorporated recommendations from U.S. Government Accountability Office, and updated costs and benefits of the ECP brake provision based on current economic conditions. The updated RIA found that the expected costs of ECP brakes are significantly higher than the expected benefits, and therefore the FAST Act required DOT to repeal the ECP brake requirement.

For more details, the Department's Final Rule announcing its decision, along with the final updated RIA that responds to comments received, are available for review at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket Number PHMSA-2017-0102.

Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2019, 09:33 PM

61. U.S. issues new rules requiring rail oil spill response plans

Source: Reuters

ENVIRONMENT FEBRUARY 14, 2019 / 3:29 PM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO

U.S. issues new rules requiring rail oil spill response plans

David Shepardson
2 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department on Thursday issued final rules requiring railroads to develop oil spill response plans and to disclose details of shipments to states and tribal governments after a series of high-profile incidents.

The department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the rules, first proposed in July 2016, would “improve oil spill response readiness and mitigate effects of rail accidents and incidents involving petroleum oil and high-hazard flammable trains.”

The new regulation “is necessary due to expansion in U.S. energy production having led to significant challenges for the country’s transportation system,” the agency added.

The new rules apply to High Hazard Flammable Trains transporting petroleum oil in a block of 20 or more loaded tank cars and trains that have a total of 35 loaded petroleum oil tank cars. They require railroads to establish geographic response zones and ensure that personnel and equipment are staged and prepared to respond in the event of an accident.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-oil-rail/u-s-issues-new-rules-requiring-rail-oil-spill-response-plans-idUSKCN1Q32T1

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Response to Eugene (Reply #61)

Fri Feb 15, 2019, 01:10 PM

62. Thanks. Here's more, from the NTSB:

NTSB News Release

National Transportation Safety Board Office of Public Affairs

DOT-105 Rail Tank Car Safety Focus of 5 NTSB Safety Recommendations

2/14/2019

​The National Transportation Safety Board issued five safety recommendations Thursday following completion of its investigation of the Aug. 27, 2016, chlorine release from a ruptured rail tank car near New Martinsville, West Virginia.

There were eight injuries reported in connection with the accident in which 178,400 pounds of liquefied compressed chlorine was released in the course of two and a half hours after a DOT-105 rail tank car sustained a 42-inch long crack in its tank shell shortly after being loaded at the Axiall Corporation Natrium plant.

As a result of the NTSB’s investigation the agency issued five new safety recommendations, three of which were issued to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and one each to the Association of American Railroads and American Railcar Industries, Inc.

The NTSB also reclassified safety recommendation R-04-7 – issued to the Federal Railroad Administration – from “Open – Acceptable Response” to “Closed – Acceptable Action/Superseded” by safety recommendation R-19-001, which is one of the three issued to PHMSA Thursday.

The recommendations issued to PHMSA call for:

· Promulgation of a final standard that includes enhanced fracture toughness requirements for tank heads and shells for pressure tank cars used to transport poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials
· Prohibiting use of tank cars transporting poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials that are constructed of nonnormalized steels and are not constructed of steels meeting the highest available fracture toughness specifications.
· Maintenance guidance for owners of DOT-105 pressure tank cars transporting poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials to establish structural integrity inspection frequency, define critical flaw size, repair and acceptance criteria for fracture-sensitive locations and nondestructive testing methods to detect and identify cracks.

The NTSB wants the Association of American Railroads to ensure local post-weld heat treatment processes are sufficiently monitored to avoid damage to tank car materials. Inspection and maintenance procedures to address cracks in cradle pad weld attachments is the focus of the NTSB’s recommendation to the American Railcar Industries, Inc.

The full accident report is available at https://go.usa.gov/xEUju and the public docket for the investigation is available at https://go.usa.gov/xEUDc.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2019, 08:38 PM

63. Thanks for doing this for all these years. nt

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2019, 08:51 AM

64. Oil Trains Make Comeback as Pipeline Bottlenecks Worsen

Oil Trains Make Comeback as Pipeline Bottlenecks Worsen

BUSINESS
Oil Trains Make Comeback as Pipeline Bottlenecks Worsen
Crude-by-rail has rebounded across the U.S. because oil production has outstripped pipeline capacity

By Rebecca Elliott and Paul Ziobro
Jan. 31, 2019 5:30 a.m. ET

The use of trains to carry crude is surging after dropping in recent years amid concerns about safety, as drillers in parts of North America produce more oil than area pipelines can accommodate.

An average of 718,000 barrels of crude a day traversed America’s railways as of October, the latest data available, an 88% increase from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That compares with a peak average of about 1.1 million barrels in October 2014.

...
TO READ THE FULL STORY

https://twitter.com/rfelliott
rebecca.elliott@wsj.com

https://twitter.com/pziobro
Paul.Ziobro@wsj.com

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2019, 08:54 AM

65. NEB cites options for addressing tight oil-moving capacity in Canada

Rail News Home >> Rail Industry Trends 3/19/2019

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
NEB cites options for addressing tight oil-moving capacity in Canada

Any notable increase in crude oil pipeline or rail capacity in Canada would need to come from major infrastructure projects since pipelines are at full capacity and rail infrastructure is operating at or near capacity, according to a National Energy Board (NEB) report. ... Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi asked the NEB to assess available capacity on oil pipelines, examine ways to optimize oil pipeline capacity out of western Canada and explore short-term steps to further maximize rail capacity.

The NEB is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada's energy industry. The board's staff members held 30 meetings with representatives from a broad cross-section of industry players, including pipeline companies, producers, shippers, associations and government agencies.

The NEB found that creating predictable timelines and clear policies related to pipeline capacity are necessary to help market participants make more informed decisions. The report also identifies the need to develop better market data to help market participants and policy makers make investment decisions. ... Potential long-term solutions in lieu of new pipeline capacity could include using reverse pipelines to export more crude oil and shipping undiluted bitumen in rail cars to increase the volume of bitumen exported by rail.

"The oil pipeline systems are currently running at capacity and market players are operating within the rules set up in tariffs and legislation," said NEB Chief Economist Jean-Denis Charlebois in a press release. "This report points to potential improvements that can be made and we have identified options for governments to pursue."

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Apr 9, 2019, 12:36 PM

66. Tar Sands Crude Shipments Quietly Increased In Oregon, With Regulators In the Dark

Hat tip, TexasTowelie:

'Rolling pipeline' of oil trains baffle Oregon regulators

In print:

'Rolling pipeline' of oil trains baffle Oregon regulators
Tony Schick/OPB Monday, April 08, 2019

Tar Sands Crude Shipments Quietly Increased In Oregon, With Regulators In the Dark
by Tony Schick Follow OPB April 4, 2019 1:45 p.m. | Updated: April 8, 2019 12:06 p.m. | Portland, Ore.

If oil is moving through Oregon, it’s Michael Zollitsch’s job to know about it. He oversees the state’s emergency responses to oil spills and other environmental disasters. ... But last March, when Bloomberg News reported oil from Canada’s tar sands was rolling through Zenith Energy’s storage facility in Northwest Portland on its way to Asia, it caught him by surprise.

“News to me!!” he wrote to his staff at Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, and to Richard Franklin, a regional spill coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ... “Me, too!” Franklin wrote back.

It wasn’t the first time oil spill regulators were in the dark about oil shipments through Oregon, and it wouldn’t be the last. ... Documents obtained by OPB under Oregon’s public records law show regulators struggled for months to get straight answers about what kind of oil was moving on trains — dubbed “rolling pipelines” by their critics — through Portland and when.

State officials resorted to tracking ships along the Columbia River and guessing how much oil they might be loading based on the amount of ballast water on board — a far cry from the 24-hour notice Washington facilities send regulators for all oil-by-rail shipments. ... When DEQ did learn the chemical makeup of that oil, according to the documents, they discovered a potential risk of toxic inhalation for workers and neighbors of the facility: The oil contains enough hydrogen sulfide that the safety data sheets for the product call for spill responders to wear not just masks but fully supplied air, similar to a scuba tank.
....

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 12:02 PM

67. Hazardous Materials: Washington Crude Oil By Rail-Vapor Pressure Requirements

Hazardous Materials: Washington Crude Oil By Rail-Vapor Pressure Requirements
....

Supplementary Information

I. Application for a Preemption Determination

The State of North Dakota and the State of Montana have applied to PHMSA for a determination whether Federal hazardous material transportation law (HMTA), 49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq., preempts the State of Washington's Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5579, Crude Oil By Rail—Vapor Pressure. Specifically, North Dakota and Montana allege the law, which purports to regulate the volatility of crude oil transported in Washington state for loading and unloading, amounts to a de facto ban on Bakken  (1) crude.

North Dakota and Montana present two main arguments for why they believe Washington's law should be preempted. First, North Dakota and Montana contend that the law's prohibition on the loading or unloading of crude oil with more than 9 psi vapor pressure poses obstacles to the HMTA because compliance with the law can only be accomplished by (1) pretreating the crude oil prior to loading the tank car; (2) selecting an alternate mode of transportation; or (3) redirecting the crude oil to facilities outside Washington state. Accordingly, North Dakota and Montana say these avenues for complying with the law impose obstacles to accomplishing the purposes of the HMTA. Similarly, they contend that the law's pre-notification requirements are an obstacle. Last, North Dakota and Montana contend that Washington's law is preempted because aspects of the law are not substantively the same as the federal requirements for the classification and handling of this type of hazardous material.

In summary, North Dakota and Montana contend the State of Washington's Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5579, Crude Oil By Rail—Vapor Pressure, should be preempted because:

It is an obstacle to the federal hazardous material transportation legal and regulatory regime; and
It is not substantively the same as the federal regulations governing the classification and handling of crude oil in transportation.
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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Mar 24, 2020, 06:30 AM

68. Is crude by rail doomed?

There's not anything about safety, but the post is about crude by rail.

Western Railroad Discussion > Is crude by rail doomed?
Date: 03/22/20 16:49
Is crude by rail doomed?
Author: Lackawanna484

The Wall Street Journal had a weekend piece on US crude oil prices. With US oil prices around $30, rail is an expensive way to move crude oil.

Bakken to East coast is about $12 for The railroad, give or take a little. Alberta to Louisiana is about $16, on Canadian oil that sells for $25.

This matters because railroads are increasingly dependent on crude oil as coal traffic drops. Pipe lines are filled.

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