Any rail company shipping Bakken shale reserve by rail have just received an extra reminder by the federal government, to keep up with traffic notices, according to a federal regulator.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx went on to point out the importance of transparency, noting how crucial it is to the federal government’s approach to safety. “The department 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.”
The Federal Railroad Administration sent notices to railroads to hammer home how important is for them to notify the federal and state government prior to shipping Bakken crude oil via rail cars. May of 2014 was a turning point for crude oil shipments, as any company delivering over 23,800 barrels of oil is now required to give a notification of their shipment in advance.
In addition to this notification change, the Department of Transportation sent out a notice and safety alert regarding North Dakota Bakken reserve crude oil being more flammable than other types of oil. However, the North Dakota Petroleum Council followed this statement up with their own study, which showed that their Bakken shale does not pose a greater risk when transported via rail.
Because of the vast increase in North American crude oil production, the pipelines are no longer capable of transporting deliveries. This of course, has forced the companies to look for alternative methods of transportation. Rail is the natural choice. The unfortunate side effect is more derailments involving trains.
Federal rules are hoping to move towards complete elimination of railcars designated by DOT-111, which is a special model that has been involved in numerous fatal derailments with crude oil.
The federal government has asked for advanced braking systems on rail cars to decrease the likelihood of derailments. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers group has also asked for a holistic approach to oil-train safety, pointing out that there are, on average, three derailments daily because of poor track design.
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