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Regulating North Dakota's Bakken Shale

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FRA has taken several steps to address increases in rail traffic in the Bakken Oil Region, the point of origin for most crude oil by rail shipments in the U.S. Under our Bakken Rail Accident Mitigation Project (RAMP), FRA is conducting additional hazardous materials safety inspections in the area as well as facilitating hazardous materials safety training seminars with shippers, consignees, contractors, and sub-contractors. In addition, FRA is working with stakeholders, participating agencies, local officials and rail carriers on highway-rail grade crossing safety and trespass prevention, which includes increased law enforcement patrols at grade crossings and expanded educational outreach to motor carriers (including several public service announcements and indoor print advertisements at major truck stops in the area)."

the Department of Transportation announced that FRA and PHMSA had launched a joint inspection operation (Bakken Blitz) in North Dakotas Bakken oil region to verify that crude oil is being properly classified in accordance with federal regulations. This includes activities such as unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic terminal and transloading locations that service crude oil.

Industry Response to Safety Advisory

On October 1, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo sent a letter to members of the railroad industry asking they detail actions theyve taken in response to our Safety Advisory.

December 13, 2013

The Honorable Joseph C. Szabo

Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E.
Washington, DC 2059()

Dear Administrator Szabo:

Your November 19, 2013, letter to AAR asked Whether other railroads had adopted
BNSF Railway's policy that any connecting railroad shipping hazardous materials
must use two-person crews. No other AAR member has adopted a similar policy. All
of AAR's members ensure that their trains have an appropriate number of qualified
crew members.

AAR and its members look forward to continuing the discussion of crew sizes under
the auspices ofthe Railroad Safety Advisory Committee.


Edward Hamberger

BNSF and the Environment

BNSF plays a vital role in our nation's economy. Rail carries more than 40 percent of our nation's freight, and what we transport touches nearly every individual in all walks of life: grain, soybeans, lumber, steel, plastic, ethanol, coal and more. We do this while reducing emissions, saving fuel and relieving highway congestion.

According to the Dallas Business Journal, BNSF is expecting to be hauling 1 million barrels of crude a day by the end of 2014

BNSF Railway opens claims center in Casselton

BNSF Railway opened a claims center Thursday for residents of Casselton after one of its trains derailed while carrying crude oil and caused a massive explosion about a mile from the small southeastern North Dakota town.

Video of a train derailment and fire on the west side of Casselton. KFGO was on the scene.

As oil train burns, 2,300 residents of Casselton, N.D., told to flee

An estimated 11 to 12 crude oil unit trains depart daily from the oil region in western North Dakota. Lacking sufficient pipelines, 69 percent of the state’s oil is currently shipped to market by rail. The main railroads, BNSF and Canadian Pacific, have tracks through the Twin Cities.

Preliminary Guidance from Operation Classification

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is issuing this safety alert to advise shippers/offerors of the potential variability of material risks and hazards from crude oil extraction and production. The raw material sources may have inconsistencies in chemical properties. PHMSA advises shippers/offerors to appropriately account for the potential variability of the crude oil in their material testing. PHMSA also advises emergency responders to be alert to the risks of crude oil transportation due to the increased volume of transportation and the wide range of crude oil properties.

PHMSA is reinforcing the requirement to properly test, characterize, classify all crude oil constituent properties including corrosivity and gas and sulfur content. Due to the potential variability of the raw material PHMSA stresses the importance of adequate and appropriate material testing frequency prior to 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 shippers/offerors properly classify and describe the hazardous materials being offered for transportation. 49 CFR 173.22. As part of this process, shippers/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. PHMSA stresses to shippers/offerors the importance of appropriate classification and packing group assignment of crude oil shipments, whether the shipment is in a cargo tank or rail tank car, or by other mode of transportation.

As part of ongoing investigative efforts, PHMSA and FRA initiated “Operation Classification,” a compliance initiative involving unannounced inspections and testing of crude oil sample materials to verify that offerors of the materials have properly classified and described the hazardous materials. Initial testing focused on the classification and packing group assignments certified by offerors of petroleum crude oil. Although these tests measure some of the inherent chemical properties of the crude oils collected, the agencies are now testing to verify other factors that affect the characterization and classification of the materials.

For additional information regarding this safety alert, please contact Rick Raksnis, PHMSA Field Services Division, (202) 366-4455 or E-mail: Richard.Raksnis@dot.gov.

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