[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 92 (Tuesday, May 13, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27370-27371]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-10914]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration

[Safety Advisory 2014-01]

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2014-0049; Notice No. 14-07]


Recommendations for Tank Cars Used for the Transportation of 
Petroleum Crude Oil by Rail

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and 
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Safety Advisory.

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SUMMARY: This safety advisory provides notice to all persons who offer 
for transportation, or transport, in tank cars by rail in commerce to, 
from or within the United States, a bulk quantity of UN 1267, petroleum 
crude oil, Class 3, that originates in or is sourced from the Bakken 
formation in the Williston Basin (Bakken crude oil). The purpose of 
this advisory is to encourage offerors and rail carriers to take 
additional precautionary measures to enhance the safe shipment of bulk 
quantities of Bakken crude oil by rail throughout the United States. 
Specifically, in light of recent accidents involving the shipment of 
Bakken crude oil by rail, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and 
the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) urge 
offerors and carriers of Bakken crude oil by rail tank car to select 
and use the railroad tank car designs with the highest level of 
integrity reasonably available within their fleet for shipment of these 
hazardous materials by rail in interstate commerce. Further, FRA and 
PHMSA advise offerors and carriers of Bakken crude oil to avoid the use 
of older, legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars for the 
shipment of such oil to the extent reasonably practicable.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Alexy, Staff Director, FRA 
Hazardous Materials Division, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 
20590-0001, telephone (202) 493-6245 or Charles Betts, Director, 
Standards and Rulemaking Division, telephone (202) 366-8553, Pipeline 
and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Changes in railroad operations over the last 
several years, including increased rail traffic, higher in-train forces 
due to the transportation of hazardous materials tank cars at higher 
gross rail loads, and the likelihood of individual tank cars 
accumulating more miles annually, have resulted in tank car design 
changes to accommodate these increased stresses and to significantly 
reduce the chances of a catastrophic failure (i.e., the sudden and 
total failure of the tank resulting in a release of the tank's 
contents). Design changes include new tank car steel and improvements 
of structural features. Older ``legacy'' tank cars, however, without 
more modern construction and design enhancements, continue to be used 
to transport hazardous materials, including Bakken crude oil. Petroleum 
crude oil (including petroleum crude oil from the Bakken) is a 
hazardous material subject to regulation under 49 CFR 172.101 of the 
Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171 to 180).
    While the overall number of railroad accidents and derailments has 
actually decreased over the past several years, the number and type of 
railroad accidents involving Bakken crude oil that have occurred during 
the last year has increased, and the quantity of petroleum crude oil 
released as a result of those accidents is higher than past precedents. 
Due to the volume of Bakken crude oil currently being offered for rail 
transportation resulting in the demonstrated recent propensity for rail 
accidents involving trains transporting Bakken crude oil to occur, and 
the subsequent releases of large quantities of such oil, FRA and PHMSA 
recommend that offerors and carriers of Bakken crude oil select and use 
the tank car designs with the highest level of integrity reasonably 
available within their fleet.
    The United States has experienced a rapid growth in the quantity of 
petroleum crude oil being shipped by rail in recent years. The growth 
has largely been sparked by developments in North Dakota, where the 
Bakken formation in the Williston Basin (the Bakken) has become a major 
source of petroleum crude oil in the United States. Much of the Bakken 
crude oil is shipped via rail to refineries located near the U.S. Gulf 
Coast or to pipeline connections, most notably to connections located 
in Oklahoma.\1\
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    \1\ See Association of American Railroads' (AAR) December 2013 
paper ``Moving Crude Oil by Rail'', available online at: https://www.aar.org/keyissues/Documents/Background-Papers/Crude-oil-by-rail.pdf.
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    Shipping hazardous materials is inherently dangerous. Transporting 
petroleum crude oil can be problematic if released into the environment 
because it is flammable. This risk of ignition is compounded in the 
context of rail transportation because petroleum crude oil is commonly 
shipped in unit trains that consist of over 100 loaded tank cars. With 
the rising demand for rail carriage of Bakken crude oil \2\ throughout 
the United States, the risk of rail incidents increases.
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    \2\ In 2011 there were 65,751 originations of tank car loads of 
crude oil. In 2012, there were 233,811 originations. AAR, Moving 
Crude Petroleum by Rail, https://www.aar.org/keyissues/Documents/Background-Papers/Moving%20Crude%20Petroleum%20by%20Rail%202012-12-10.pdf (December 2012).
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    In light of the above discussion, and in an effort to maintain the 
safety of the Nation's rail system and the communities through which 
trains transporting Bakken crude oil travels, FRA and PHMSA recommend 
that offerors and carriers of Bakken crude oil by rail select and only 
use the tank car designs with the highest level of integrity reasonably 
available within their fleet. The features that offerors should 
consider in assessing tank car integrity include, without limitation, 
tank shell jacket systems, head shields, and top fittings protection. 
Further, FRA and PHMSA advise offerors and carriers of Bakken crude oil 
to avoid the use of older, legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank 
cars for the shipment of such oil to the extent reasonably practicable.


[[Page 27371]]


    Issued in Washington, DC on May 7, 2014.
Robert C. Lauby,
Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer, 
Federal Railroad Administration.
Magdy El-Sibaie,
Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety, Pipeline and 
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
[FR Doc. 2014-10914 Filed 5-12-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P