The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an Emergency Order on May 7, 2014, to all railroad carriers that transport at least 1,000,000 gallons of crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. The order requires that these railroad carriers, within 30 days, notify the State Emergency Response Commission (“SERC”) in each state in which they operate about the expected movement of their trains in the state.
Specifically, the notification must:
(a) provide an estimate of the number of trains that are expected to travel each week through each county in the state;
(b) identify and describe the crude oil expected to be transported;
(c) provide all emergency-response information required by 49 CFR part 172, subpart G related to hazardous materials;
(d) identify the routes over which the material will be transported; and
(e) identify at least one point of contact at the railroad related to the transport of crude oil.
This emergency order comes after the DOT determined that “[t]he number and type of petroleum crude oil railroad accidents . . . that have occurred during the last year is startling, and the quantity of petroleum crude oil spilled as a result of those accidents is voluminous in comparison to past precedents.” These accidents include a derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia, on April 30, 2014; a derailment near Casselton, North Dakota, on December 30, 2013; a derailment near Aliceville, Alabama, on November 8, 2013; and a “catastrophic” accident involving a U.S. railroad company in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, on July 6, 2013.
“The safety of our nation’s railroad system, and the people who live along rail corridors is of paramount concern,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil, and today’s actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars.”