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Crude by rail: USDOT issues another emergency order; Global One launches unit trains in Utah

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) yesterday issued an emergency order requiring all shippers to test crude oil from the Bakken Shale region to ensure it's properly classified before being transported by rail.

The order also prohibits the transportation of crude oil in Packing Group III, the lowest-strength packing group. In addition, all Class III crude oil shipments must be designated as Packing Group I or II, thereby requiring the use of a "more robust tank car," USDOT officials said in a press release.

“Today we are raising the bar for shipping crude oil on behalf of the families and communities along rail lines nationwide — if you intend to move crude oil by rail, then you must test and classify the material appropriately,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “And when you do ship it, you must follow the requirements for the two strongest safety packing groups."

The emergency order — the fourth one the USDOT has issued in less than a year — aims to address recent derailments involving trains carrying crude from the Bakken region, USDOT officials said. It also focuses on concerns raised about proper classification that currently are under investigation as part of Operation Classification, an effort also known as the “Bakken Blitz," they said.

Meanwhile, Global One Transport Inc. yesterday announced the first unit train of Uinta Basin crude has been transported from its Price River Terminal (PRT) crude-by-rail facility in eastern Utah.

Since the terminal opened in December 2013, manifest train service has been available. Now, PRT is the only facility in eastern Utah that's capable of shipping unit trains of crude, Global One officials said in a press release.

The facility offers direct access to both BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad, enabling customers to reach refineries throughout the country and tap previously unavailable markets, they said.

The PRT is being expanded to include automated truck unloading racks and tank facilities. A future expansion is designed to accommodate the transloading of dry bulk commodities, such as frac sand, ceramic proppants, tubular pipe, oil field equipment, building products and other drilling materials.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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