Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ban on unsafe rail oil cars sought - and more

 Ban on unsafe rail oil cars sought

WASHINGTON, D.C.  July 15, 2014 12:25pm

•  Groups say feds dragging their feet
•  “These oil tankers have been called the Ford Pinto of the rails”

Two national environmental organizations have filed a formal legal petition seeking to force the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue an emergency order prohibiting the use of hazardous rail cars — known as “DOT-111s” — for shipping flammable Bakken crude oil.
The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly found that the DOT-111 tank cars are prone to puncture on impact, spilling oil and often triggering destructive fires and explosions, say the Sierra Club and ForestEthics, represented by Earthjustice. The Safety Board has made official recommendations to stop shipping crude oil in these hazardous tank cars, but federal regulators have not complied......continued here

North Dakota Crude Oil Rail Shipments Continue to Decline

Richard Nemec   July 16, 2014  Shale Daily
Reflecting changed market conditions, the amount of Bakken Shale crude oil being shipped by rail continues to decline, according to the latest statistics released Monday by North Dakota energy officials.

After peaking at more than 70% of the oil transported out of state, crude oil by rail dropped to 59% in May, the most recent month for which there are complete statistics, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. Kringstad spoke at a monthly webinar during which the latest production figures were released.

"We're continuing to see the percentage of oil moved by pipeline [41% in May] grow and the percentage of rail continue to decrease over the last few months," said Kringstad, who offered an update on two recently announced pipeline projects for moving oil out of state (see Shale DailyJune 24June 26)......continued here

Yolo supervisors challenge Benicia on crude oil train plans 

By Tony Bizjak
Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014
In a letter to be sent this week, Yolo County officials accuse the city of Benicia of failing to adequately review the potential for oil spills and fires resulting from a plan by the Valero Refining Co. to run two daily trains carrying crude oil through the Sacramento region to its Bay Area refinery.
A recently published environmental report by Benicia concludes the project will not cause any significant negative impact to cities and habitat up the rail line. That finding was based on an Illinois professor’s analysis saying a train incident causing an oil spill might happen only once every 111 years between Roseville and Benicia.

The Yolo letter, approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, calls that analysis inaccurate and irrelevant because it doesn’t explore the potential magnitude of oil spills. A crude oil train crash and explosion last year in Lac Mégantic, Canada, killed 47 people and leveled several blocks of downtown.

“A catastrophic explosion and spill in a populated area is different from a 100-gallon spill in a shipyard that is quickly cleaned up,” the Yolo letter states. “Without considering the second half of the risk analysis, the (report) cannot conclude that the risk of a spill is insignificant.”.....
continued here 

Oil train sector has work to settle safety concerns -trade group

WASHINGTON, Jul 15, 2014
(Reuters) - The U.S. refining industry has not agreed to a deal reached by oil producers and railroads on improving the safety of oil tank cars, it said on Tuesday, suggesting a key piece of anticipated reforms remains unsettled.

On Monday, several industry sources said the American Petroleum Institute, a leading voice for oil producers, and the Association of American Railroads, the political arm of the rail industry, had reached a breakthrough on oil tanker safety.

Specifically, the two groups were said to have agreed on a schedule for retiring older tank cars and a toughened design for newer cars that carry most of the fuel out of North Dakota's Bakken shale oil fields.

But it is the refining industry that most relies on tank cars to reliably deliver crude oil, and it was not part of any such deal, said the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry trade association.

"Our members own or lease the lion's share of rail tank cars used to transport crude oil," said Rebecca Adler, a spokeswoman for the group.

"AFPM members have not yet considered the API/AAR specification car and have not seen the data showing the costs and benefits." .....continued here

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