Another Warning About Bakken Region Crude Oil: PHMSA Issues Safety Alert

In a previous post, Emergency Film Group covered the details of the safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the potential high volatility of the crude oil coming from the Bakken oil shale patch in Montana and North Dakota. According to the agency, the crude, which is shipped by rail across the U.S. and Canada, could be more flammable than traditional oil. (See story here).

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has also issued a safety alert about crude oil being transported from the Bakken region. The PHMSA alert states:

Based upon preliminary inspections conducted after recent rail derailments in North Dakota, Alabama and Lac-Megantic, Quebec involving Bakken crude oil, PHMSA is reinforcing the requirement to properly test, characterize, classify, and where appropriate sufficiently degasify hazardous materials prior to and during transportation. This advisory is a follow-up to the PHMSA and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) joint safety advisory published November 20, 2013 [78 FR 69745]. As stated in the November Safety Advisory, it is imperative that offerors properly classify and describe hazardous materials being offered for transportation. 49 CFR 173.22. As part of this process, offerors must ensure that all potential hazards of the materials are properly characterized.

Proper characterization will identify properties that could affect the integrity of the packaging or present additional hazards, such as corrosivity, sulfur content, and dissolved gas content. These characteristics may also affect classification. PHMSA stresses to offerors the importance of appropriate classification and packing group (PG) assignment of crude oil shipments, whether the shipment is in a cargo tank, rail tank car or other mode of transportation. Emergency responders should remember that light sweet crude oil, such as that coming from the Bakken region, is typically assigned a packing group I or II. The PGs mean that the material’s flashpoint is below 73 degrees Fahrenheit and, for packing group I materials, the boiling point is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This means the materials pose significant fire risk if released from the package in an accident.

Read the entire PHMSA alert here. . . .   

Smoke rises from derailed oil train cars in western Alabama on Nov. 8, 2013. Smoke rises from derailed oil train cars in western Alabama on Nov. 8, 2013.

Emergency Film Group’s Crude Oil Spill Response Package provides comprehensive training for emergency personnel to effectively respond to these dangerous incidents. More information about this package can be found here. . .

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