Category Archives: Federal Regulation (U.S.)

Government pamphlet: Bureau of Explosives

Attachment: Pamphlet 34 – Recommended Methods for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Non-Pressure (General Service) and Pressure Tank Cars

From the Editor, The Benicia Independent …

Valero proposes to offload 100 tanker cars every day.  Each car will undergo highly technical and potentially dangerous operations where safety caps are manually removed and valves are tested before hoses can be attached, relief valves opened, and the offload valve is fully opened.  At each step in this complicated procedure, fugitive emissions can be added to the air, and minor test spills are intentional and routine.  Question: will Valero follow the guidelines of the Federal Department of Transportation, Bureau of Explosives?  How much do 100 such offloading procedures every day add to the toxic pollutants in our air, especially as compared to fewer connect/disconnect procedures for marine and pipeline supplies of crude oil?

I know there are a few intrepid citizens out there who want to know more in technical detail, and who will devote themselves to the sorts of tech analysis of protocols that inevitably point to issues of both worker and public safety / public health.  Please take a look at the attached document from the DOT / Bureau of Explosives: Pamphlet 34 – Recommended Methods for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Non-Pressure (General Service) and Pressure Tank Cars(Pay close attention to the highlighted material on pages 11-13.)

[NOTE: original source of this pamphlet and other informative documents is]
Roger Straw
Editor, The Benicia Independent
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‘Time warp’ for oil train safety

Repost from The Oregonian

By Rob Davis The Oregonian
January 24, 2014
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley met Friday at Portland Fire & Rescue headquarters with railroad companies and first responders, saying reforms are needed to address dangers in Oregon from trains hauling potentially explosive crude oil.  (Rob Davis/The Oregonian)

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley met Friday in Portland with railroad companies, emergency responders and public officials to deliver a clear message: The two Oregon Democrats take oil train safety seriously and believe more needs to be done to protect the state’s residents.

Last year, 110 trains passed through Portland each carrying dozens of cars filled with potentially explosive crude oil from North Dakota. They’re moving the same type of oil that was involved in three high-profile explosions since July, including one in Quebec that killed 47 people and leveled part of a town.

The hour-long meeting Wyden organized at Portland Fire & Rescue headquarters demonstrated the senators’ concern about oil train safety and allowed them to hear directly from first responders. But it also reinforced a festering issue for oil trains.

While there’s been a lot of talk about making them safer, there isn’t much to show for it.

Oil still moves with lighter regulation on trains than if it were transported in traditional ways, such as oil tankers. Despite pledges, railroad companies have been slow to provide state officials with information about oil train routes, their frequency and emergency response plans. Rail companies are resisting legislative efforts to increase those disclosures in Washington state.

Ron Wyden talks about safety concerns with oil trainsSen. Ron Wyden discusses his concerns about oil trains currently shipping potentially explosive crude through Oregon. Wyden says reforms are needed to ensure oil train risks are addressed.

“Too many Oregon communities believe that the safety and public disclosure rules for transporting this oil are stuck in a time warp,” Wyden said. “We’re going to have to strike a better balance between information sharing and security.”

Friday’s meeting yielded some suggestions for improvement. Terry Moss, the St. Helens police chief, said 911 dispatchers there don’t know when mile-long oil trains are passing through his community and blocking crossings for minutes at a time. Dispatchers currently can’t help police and fire responders route around trains, Moss said.

But it also struck out on familiar questions, like how long it would take to phase out thousands of old oil tank cars first identified as safety risks in 1991. Rail companies said they didn’t know.

Wyden, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has promised an investigation and said he would track oil train safety until reforms are chaptered in law.

“The Senate is going to bird-dog this,” Wyden said. “This is not something that’s just going to be debated for a few weeks – we’re going to stay at this until it gets fixed.”

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KPIX report: Feds Raise Concerns

Repost from KPIX  Channel 5 / CBS News Bay Area

Feds Raise Concerns Over Transporting Crude Oil By Rail

Federal officials have sounded the alarm over shipping crude oil by rail, following a series of accidents. The announcement comes as two Bay Area cities consider proposals to accept the shipments. Christin Ayers reports.

KPIX Report: Detailing a New Danger, 23 Jan 2014
KPIX Report: Detailing a New Danger, 23 Jan 2014

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