The US DOT, PHMSA, and FRA have taken action on multiple fronts to address the safe transport of flammable liquids by rail. The following is a summary of actions taken to date:
- USDOT emergency actions require railroads transporting crude to notify state emergency response commissions and urges use of tank cars with highest integrity.
- On March 6, 2014, USDOT issued an Amended Emergency Order to provide further clarity for shippers and offerors of crude oil, and to prevent attempts to circumvent requirements concerning the safe transport of crude oil by rail.
- USDOT issued an Emergency Order requiring stricter standards to transport crude oil by rail.
- PHMSA launched Operation Classification in North Dakota's Bakken Region to verify that shippers and rail carriers are properly classifying crude oil in accordance with Federal regulations.
- FRA issued Emergency Order 28, establishing additional requirements for attendance and securement of certain freight trains and vehicles to prevent unintended movement. PHMSA and FRA also issue a joint safety advisory detailing a list of recommendations railroads are expected to follow.
- PHMSA and FRA issued a joint safety advisory reiterating the importance of proper characterization, classification, and selection of a packing group for flammable liquids, and the corresponding requirements in the Federal hazardous materials regulations for safety and security planning.
- PHMSA issued a Safety Alert warning of the variability in crude oil's chemical composition, requiring proper testing to ensure the material is properly classified and its hazards characterized prior to transport.
- PHMSA continues to review formal public comments on the September 6, 2013 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposed improved safety requirements for DOT 111 rail tanks cars and other improvements related to rail safety.