Safe Transportation of Energy Products

Q & A

Federal regulations prescribe requirements for the packaging and transport of crude oil by rail. Additional guidance is available through the Hazardous Materials Information Center, a call center that answers questions and helps individuals and organizations comply with the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

 

Hazmat Rail Safety

What is DOT doing to address the increase in hazmat traffic on our Nation’s rails?

We are taking several steps to address increases in crude oil rail traffic throughout the United States.  Under the Rail Accident Mitigation Project (RAMP), we are conducting additional hazardous materials safety inspections in the Bakken Region. We are also facilitating hazardous materials safety training seminars with shippers, consignees, contractors, and sub-contractors, and we are concluding Operation Classification, which is looking at how crude is sampled, tested, and classified before being shipped. 

To the extent that increased rail and truck traffic poses an increased risk of collision at highway-rail crossings, we are working with stakeholders, participating agencies, local officials and rail carriers on grade crossing safety and trespass prevention. Our efforts include working with law enforcement to increase patrols at grade crossings and expanding educational outreach to increase awareness about grade crossing safety.

Do you think hydraulic fracking chemicals could be playing a role here?

Regardless of what kind of hazmat is being transported, shippers and carriers are responsible for properly classifying crude, packaging it and communicating in accordance with federal safety regulations, which includes understanding the characteristics of the material. That’s one of the issues we’re looking at as part of Operation Classification.

Rulemaking Activity

What is the status of the rail car rulemaking?

These are very complex and technical public safety issues that require extensive review, as they should. PHMSA’s current rail safety proposal includes amendments that address the DOT Specification 111 tank cars, as well as operating practices that would enhance rail safety and clarify regulations. The rulemaking process has been thorough because it was crucial to get input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including shippers and carriers, state and local officials and concerned citizens. 

Recommendations include enhanced tank head and shell puncture resistance systems for DOT Specification 111 tank cars, as well as top fittings protection that exceed current requirements. We are currently reviewing 135 comments representing 100,000 stakeholders.

What’s the next step for the rail car rule?

In addition to the comment review process, we will conduct a policy analysis, both of which will determine the most appropriate path forward.  These next steps may include a Notice of Proposed rulemaking or other more immediate regulatory paths.

Emergency Response

What resources are available to assist emergency responders dealing with incidents involving flammable liquids?

The Emergency Response Guidebook provides first responders with a go-to manual to help deal with hazmat accidents during the critical first 30 minutes. It is also available as a free mobile app. DOT Chart 15 is also useful for identifying hazardous materials by the affixed label or placard. Finally, our Hazardous Materials Information Center provides live, one-on-one assistance Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

What rules/regulations are in place for railroads regarding emergency preparedness for hazardous material train accidents, particularly in event of spills?

49 CFR Part 174.26 requires train crews to have documentation on the contents of each HM car and its position in a train for use as emergency response information.  49 CFR Part 172 Subpart G provides the requirements for the emergency response information to be maintained during transportation including facilities that transload and store HM commodities incidental to transportation. Visit the Federal Railroad Administration’s website for more details about hazardous materials regulations for transportation by rail.

How can a community learn what hazardous materials are traveling through their towns by rail?

Railroads are required to provide local officials (upon written request) a list of the top 25 hazmat commodities transported through their communities on an annualized basis in order to assist emergency responders with prepping for any emergency involving those materials.

Does the federal government offer any guidance to local communities for dealing with hazmat spills?

The Environmental Protection Agency and The Occupational Safety & Health Administration are the agencies that would provide such guidance.

Amended Emergency Order – Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0025

Q1:  Does the Amended Emergency Order (EO; Order) require the reclassification of all Packing Group (PG) III crude oil to PG I or II?

A1:  No. The Order requires UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3 that meets the criteria for PG III, when offered or transported in commerce by rail, to be treated as a PG I or II material.  As such, the material must be transported in accordance with all requirements applicable to PG I or II materials under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).  However, PG III materials may continue to be described as PG III for the purposes of hazard communication (e.g., shipping papers). 

Q2:  The EO requires (1) testing and classification of crude oil and (2) treatment of crude oil as PG I or PG II.  If an entity complies with (1) and its testing confirms the material is properly classed at PG III, does (2) apply? 

A2:  Yes. The Order requires all UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3 to be tested and properly classified prior to being offered and transported by rail. If the testing reveals it to be a PG III material, it must be treated as a PG I or II when offered for transportation or transported by rail.  However, PG III materials may continue to be described as PG III for the purposes of hazard communication (e.g., shipping papers). 

Q3:  What action should a carrier (a railroad) take when crude oil is offered for transportation at a transloading facility with a PG III designation?

A3:  At a transloading facility, when crude oil, UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG III is to be transferred from a cargo tank motor vehicle or pipeline into a rail tank car, it must be treated as a PG I or II material. 

Q4:  Are shippers (offerors) now required to load UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG III crude oil into DOT specification cars and eliminate the use of the AAR 211 cars?

A4: That is correct. AAR 211 rail tank cars cannot be used to transport UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG III.

Q5:  Are the parameters of boiling point and flashpoint changing in the short term since transportation of crude oil as a PG III is no longer authorized?  If not, how is a shipper supposed to appropriately choose a new PG if the parameters only fit PG III? 

A5:  No. The parameters of boiling point and flashpoint are not changing, nor does the Order eliminate PG III. The Order does require all UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II or III to be tested and properly classified prior to being offered and transported by rail. If the crude oil meets the criteria for a PG III material in accordance with the criteria set forth in the table in A7, it must be treated as a PG I or II for transportation by rail.  PG III materials, however, may continue to be described as PG III for the purposes of hazard communication (e.g., placards, shipping papers, emergency response information, etc.). 

Q6:  If a petroleum crude oil has a flash point at or above 100 °F and the existing practice is to offer it as a combustible liquid, can I continue to do so under the Order?

A6:  Yes.  However, the Order prohibits persons who offer petroleum crude oil for transportation in commerce by rail, in rail tank cars as UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II, or III from reclassifying such crude oil with the intent to circumvent the requirements of the Order.

Q7:  For a rail tank car containing Petroleum Crude Oil, UN1267, what is the correct PG assignment if the flash point = 90° F and the boiling point = 100° F?  The order requires the offeror to treat UN1267 as a PG I or PG II.  Would the example be assigned PG I or PG II, or either of the two?  What if the flash point = 70° F, would that change the PG assignment?

A7:  Assignment of PG for a Class 3 flammable liquid is found in § 173.121 of the HMR. The PG must be determined by applying the following criteria:

Packing Group

Flash point (closed-cup)

Initial boiling point

I

 

≤35 °C (95 °F)

II

<23 °C (73 °F)

>35 °C (95 °F)

III

≥23 °C, ≤60 °C (≥73 °F, ≤140 °F)

>35 °C (95 °F)

Therefore, using the above criteria, a tank car containing UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil with a flash point equal to 90 °F and a boiling point equal to 100 °F would meet the defining criteria for a PG III.  Under the EO, such a material may still be described as PG III, but it must be treated as PG I or II when offered for transportation or transported by rail in a tank car.  If, however, the flash point equals 70 °F and the boiling point equals 100 °F, the material meets the definition for PG II, and therefore must be classified as PG II.

Q8:  Does the EO apply only to US shippers of UN1267? 

A8:  No. The Order applies to all persons who offer for transportation in tank cars by rail in commerce to, from, and within the United States, UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II or III and their officers, directors, employees, subcontractors, and agents.

Q9:  If a Canadian shipper has properly classified their shipment as a UN1267 PG III (e.g., Canadian heavy crude), can they still ship from Canada to the US as a PG III in an AAR 211 tank car?

A9:  No. The only exception is for persons who ordinarily offer bulk quantities of petroleum crude oil for transportation in commerce by rail, in rail tank cars as a “combustible liquid” as defined in 49 CFR Section 173.150(f) or special provision B1 of 49 CFR Section 172.102 of the HMR.

Q10.  How is the Order related to Transport Canada’s Protective Direction 31?

A10:  The Order is not related to Transport Canada’s Protective Direction 31. The Order applies to all persons who offer for transportation in tank cars by rail in commerce to, from, and within the United States, UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II or III and their officers, directors, employees, subcontractors, and agents.

Q11:  Does the EO apply to Class 3, PG III crude oil that has been verified as PG III with its origin in Canada and destination in the US? 

A11:  Yes. The Order applies to all persons who offer for transportation in tank cars by rail in commerce to, from, and within the United States, UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II or III and their officers, directors, employees, subcontractors, and agents.

Q12:  What is the impact of the Order on highway transportation?

A12: The Order applies only to rail transportation and does not apply to highway transportation of crude oil.  For highway transportation, PG III materials may continue to be transported as currently authorized. 

Q13:  If transporting crude oil as a PG III by truck to rail yard and onwards with a single set of shipping papers, will the shipper have to “increase” the packing group and mark the crude as PG I or PG II?  If a single set of shipping papers is used for both the truck and the rail movement, will the cargo tank trailer need to conform to the PG designation listed on the shipping papers?

A13:  No. Under the scenario described, the use of a single set of shipping papers is not authorized for both highway and rail transportation.  Upon offering the material into the highway mode, a shipping paper must be created.  Upon offering the material for rail transport, a second set of shipping papers must be created.  However, in the highway mode, the cargo tank may conform to the PG III designation listed on the shipping papers.

Q14: What are the responsibilities of a carrier that has knowledge that the information provided by an offeror is incorrect?

A14: Each carrier who accepts a hazardous material for transportation in commerce may rely on information provided by the offeror of the hazardous material or a prior carrier, unless the carrier knows or, a reasonable person, acting in the circumstances and exercising reasonable care, would have knowledge that the information provided by the offeror or prior carrier is incorrect. If a carrier becomes aware of, or has reason to believe, that the offeror has not provided accurate information, the carrier shall either reject the shipment or ensure that the shipment of hazardous materials complies with the HMR and the Order.

Q15:  How does this emergency order impact oil and gas companies?

A15:  The Order applies to all persons who offer for transportation in tank cars by rail in commerce to, from, and within the United States, UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3, PG I, II or III and their officers, directors, employees, subcontractors, and agents.

Q16:  Does the EO prohibit a railroad from accepting for transportation an AAR 211 car with crude oil loaded before the EO was issued? 

A16:  No. UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, 3, PG III offered for transportation and transported in commerce by rail on or prior to February 25, 2014, may continue to be transported to its final destination without having to be repackaged.  However, if the material is reoffered into transportation by rail after February 25, 2014, the material must be in full compliance with the Order.

Q17:  What is the effect of the Order on rail cars already in transportation?

A17:  The Order applies only to petroleum crude oil offered for transportation by rail after February 25, 2014 and the transportation of petroleum crude oil that begins after February 25, 2014.  Those rail cars already in transportation prior to the issuance of the Order, and that are in compliance with the HMR, may proceed to their destination without regard to the restrictions and limitations of the Order. See A16.

Q18:  Does the EO apply to shipments already in transit, including loads and residues?

A18:  No. See A16 and A17.

Q19:  Does the EO pertain to residue shipments?

A19:  Yes. Unless the tank car has been sufficiently cleaned of residues and purged of vapors to remove any potential hazards, the EO applies.

Q20:  What is the frequency of testing required by the Order?

A20:  This Order requires that any person who offers petroleum crude oil into transportation in commerce by rail in tank cars to conduct tests to determine the petroleum crude oil’s flash point and boiling point.  For purposes of the Order, flash point and boiling point tests must have been conducted within the reasonable, recent past. 

 For offerors without sufficient knowledge to classify their petroleum crude oil, in addition to the tests required by the Order, testing may be necessary to characterize and classify the petroleum crude oil to comply with the HMR.  Such additional testing  may include, but is not limited to, tests to determine the percentage presence of flammable gases; vapor pressure; the presence, concentration and content of compounds such as sulfur/hydrogen sulfide; and corrosivity.  The frequency of testing should account for variability of the material, including the time, temperature, and location of extraction. Sampling methods should ensure a representative sample of the entire mixture, as packaged, is collected.

Q21:  What tests are appropriate for the classification and characterization of petroleum crude oil?

A21: The following tests and thresholds are referenced in the HMR.

For Division 2.1 Flammable Gases (§§ 173.115 and 173.116)

ASTM E681-85 – Standard Test Method for Concentration Limits of Flammability of Chemicals (Vapors and Gases)

            Ignitable in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume with air, or

            Flammable range with air of at least 12 percent regardless of the lower limit.

For Division 2.2 Non- Flammable Gases (§§ 173.115 and 173.116)

Gauge pressure of 200 kPa (29.0 psig/43.8 psia) or greater at 20 °C

For Division 2.3 Gas Poisonous by Inhalation (§§ 173.115 and 173.116)

LC50 ≤ 5000 ppm

            Known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportation, or

In the absence of adequate data on human toxicity, is presumed to be toxic to humans when tested on laboratory animals

            LC50 values for mixtures may be determined using the formula in §173.133(b)(1)(i)

For Class 3 Flammable Liquids (§§ 173.120 and 173.121)

Flash Point –

Homogeneous, single-phase liquid having a viscosity less than 45 S.U.S. at 38 °C (100 °F):

ASTM D-56 – Standard Method of Test for Flash Point by Tag Closed Cup Tester

ASTM D-3278 – Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Small Scale Closed-Cup Apparatus

ASTM D-3828 – Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Small Scale Closed Tester

All other liquids:

ASTM D-93 – Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester

ASTM D-3278 – Standard Test Methods for Flash Point of Liquids by Small Scale Closed-Cup Apparatus

ISO 1516 – Determination of Flash/No Flash – Closed Cup Equilibrium Method

ISO 1523 – Determination of Flash Point – Closed Cup Equilibrium Method

ISO 2719 – Determination of Flash Point – Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Method

ISO 3679 – Determination of Flash Point – Rapid Equilibrium Closed Cup Method

ISO 3680 – Determination of Flash/No Flash – Rapid Equilibrium Closed Cup Method

ISO13736 – Determination of Flash Point – Abel Closed- Cup Method

For mixtures:

            Method specified in §173.120(c)(2)

Boiling Point

            ASTM D-86 – Distillation of Petroleum Products at Atmospheric Pressure

ASTM D-1078 – Standard Test Method for Distillation Range of Volatile, Organic Liquids

ISO 3405 – Petroleum Products – Determination of Distillation Characteristics at Atmospheric Pressure

ISO 3924 – Petroleum Products – Determination of Boiling Range Distribution – Gas Chromatography Method

ISO 4626 – Volatile Organic Liquids – Determination of Boiling Range of Organic Solvents Used as Raw Materials

Viscosity

            ISO 2431 – Paints and Varnishes – Determination of Flow Time by use of Flow Cups

            Solvent Separation Test – as described in §173.121(b)(2)(ii)

For Division 6.1 Poisonous Materials (§§ 173.132 and 173.133)

LC50 ≤ 5000 mL/m3

            Known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportation, or

In the absence of adequate data on human toxicity, is presumed to be toxic to humans when tested on laboratory animals

            LC50 values for mixtures may be determined using the formula in §173.133(b)(1)(i)

For Class 8 Corrosive Materials (§§ 173.136 and 173.137)

OECD Guideline for testing of Chemicals, Number 435 – In Vitro Membrane Barrier Test Method for Skin Corrosion

OECD Guideline for testing of Chemicals, Number 404 – Acute Dermal Irritation/Corrosion

OECD Guideline for testing of Chemicals, Number 430 – In Vitro Skin Corrosion: Transcutaneous Electrical Resistance Test (TER)

OECD Guideline for testing of Chemicals, Number 431 – In Vitro Skin Corrosion: Human Skin Model Test

Test method as described in UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Section 37 

Corrosivity testing should be conducted according to section 37 of the Manual of Tests and Criteria.  When trying to determine whether these materials are corrosive to metal, the testing should follow that specified within the Manual of Tests and Criteria.  Specifically, the corrosion rates should be determined against the following:

1 – 7075-T6 or AZ5GU-T6; and

2 – S235JR+CR or S275J2G3+CR or ISO 3574 or SAE 1020 or UNS G10200

This would allow determination of whether these materials meet the definition of PG III within Class 8 for classification purposes. 

Q22:  Are there penalties associated with not following the EO?

A22:  Yes. Any person failing to comply with the Order is subject to a civil penalty up to $175,000 for each violation or for each day that person is found to be in violation (49 U.S.C. § 5123).  In some cases, criminal prosecution may be brought for against a person violating the Order, which may result in fines under title 18, imprisonment of up to ten years, or both (49 U.S.C. § 5124).

Q23:  How will DOT enforce the order?

A23:  DOT will monitor adherence to the terms of the Order through announced and unannounced inspections based upon incidents, complaints, public outreach and other information.  DOT also will use other means it has available   (e.g., test data) to evaluate compliance with the Order.  Any violations discovered will be prosecuted by civil penalty proceedings and criminal referrals, as appropriate.