The US Department of Transportation issued an emergency order late May 7, 2014 that rail companies must inform state and local emergency management officials about large crude oil shipments from the Bakken Region and begin to use stricter discretion for the use of older model tank cars.
View the emergency order here
The decision is similar to the one made in Canada just weeks ago, when federal officials announced the phase-out of the older DOT-111 rain cars.
Transport Canada cracks down on DOT-111 rail cars
“The safety of our nation’s railroad system, and the people who live along rail corridors is of paramount concern,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil, and today’s actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars,” he added.
The US emergency order relates to rail shipments of one million gallons or more of crude oil from the booming Bakken Region of North Dakota, where the oil has a track record of being more flammable than normal.
The Emergency Order also requires the railroads provide contact information for at least one responsible party at the host railroads to State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs). The emergency order advises railroads to assist the SERCs as necessary to share the information with the appropriate emergency responders in affected communities.
There have been nine oil train derailments in the US and Canada since March 2013, many resulting in fires and evacuations, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.