FRA: Railroads Must Continue to Notify of Expected Bakken Movements

Tank cars move through Marietta, Ga., on July 20, 2015. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

Railroads must continue to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Tribal Emergency Response Commissions (TERCs) of the expected movement of Bakken crude oil trains through individual states and tribal regions, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said.

Since May 2014, trains with 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil — which amounts to roughly 35 tank cars — are subject to the notification.

“Transparency is a critical piece of the federal government’s comprehensive approach to safety,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “DOT is committed to making certain that states and local officials have the information they need to prepare for and respond to incidents involving hazardous materials, including crude oil. The Emergency Order that requires these notifications still stands, and we expect railroads to fully comply.”

There is some consternation over the safety of shipping Bakken crude oil by rail after a 2013 explosion in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec.

In that disaster, a unit train hauling 77 tank cars with Bakken oil from from North Dakota to the Irving Oil Refinery in New Brunswick derailed in the middle of Lac-Mégantic. The explosion destroyed 30 buildings and killed 47 people.