Federal agencies Rail

Safety board issues recommendations on rail shipment of flammables

Washington – The National Transportation Safety Board on Jan. 23 issued recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in an effort to improve the safety of shipping crude oil and other flammable hazardous materials by rail.

The recommendations come after multiple derailments of trains carrying crude oil or other flammable substances in recent years have resulted in severe fires and, in some cases, fatalities. These include derailments in Casselton, ND; Cherry Valley, IL; and Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

Among the recommendations:

  • Require carriers to plan routes for trains carrying certain hazardous materials to avoid highly populated areas and other safety-sensitive locations.
  • Ensure carriers transporting oil and petroleum products have comprehensive emergency response plans that can address “worst-case” discharges of the entire shipment.
  • Audit shippers and carriers to ensure they properly test, document and provide classifications for the hazardous materials being packaged and shipped.