The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued a new safety order pertaining to the transport of Bakken crude oil. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has identified Bakken crude oil as particularly dangerous to transport because of its flammability. Under the new order, railroads must notify State Emergency Response Commissions about trains going through their states carrying Bakken crude oil. The notifications must include volumes shipped, routes, and train frequency. DOT also issued safety advisory, urging shippers of Bakken crude oil to transport the oil using tank cars of the highest integrity possible.
Congressman Mike Michaud, who has successfully advocated for improvements to rail safety in the wake of the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, issued the following statement:
"Every day, trains carrying hazardous materials like crude oil travel through our communities -- and we have seen just how devastating it can be when an accident occurs," said Michaud. "That's why we must do everything within our power to ensure we are transporting hazardous materials as carefully as possible, and ensure local emergency responders have the information they need to prepare before something goes wrong. I applaud today's DOT order -- it will increase coordination with states and ensure we have mobilized the resources necessary to respond to incidents."
Last month, the Federal Rail Administration announced that it planned to develop a new rule that would require a minimum of two- person crews on crude oil trains and other crew size standards for freight and passenger rail operations. The proposed rule aligns with legislation introduced by Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree last summer, H.R. 3040, the Safe Freight Act, which enjoys bipartisan support and would ensure a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains.