DOT Issues Emergency Order For Transport Of Crude Oil From Bakken Shale Region


On May 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Emergency Order requiring all railroads operating trains containing bulk quantities of UN 1267, petroleum crude oil, Class 3, that either originates or is sourced from the Bakken formation in the Williston Basin (Bakken crude oil) to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) about the operation of these trains through their states.  The Emergency Order is available online.  DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) also issued a joint Safety Advisory (Safety Advisory Number 2014-01) strongly urging those shipping or offering Bakken crude oil to use tank car designs with the highest level of integrity available in their fleets.  In addition, PHMSA and FRA advise offerers and carriers to avoid using older legacy DOT Specification 111 or CTC 111 tank cars for the shipment of Bakken crude oil.  The Safety Advisory is available online

Under the Emergency Order (Docket Number DOT-OST-2014-0067), each railroad operating a single train containing 1,000,000 gallons or more (approximately 35 tank cars) of Bakken crude oil is required to notify SERCs in the states through which the shipment will travel.  The notification must include estimated volumes of Bakken crude oil being transported per week through each county within the state, frequencies of anticipated train traffic, and the route through which Bakken crude oil will be transported, including identification of each county of a particular state or the equivalent state commonwealths’ jurisdiction.  The Emergency Order also requires the railroads provide contact information for at least one responsible party at the host railroad to the SERCs.  The Emergency Order advises railroads to assist the SERCs as necessary to share the information with the appropriate emergency responders in affected communities.

Failure to comply with this Emergency Order could result in civil penalties of up to $175,000 per violation per day as well.  Any person willfully or recklessly violating the Emergency Order may also be subject to potential criminal prosecution.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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