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Rail News: Safety

API recommends crude-by-rail practices; Quarterman resigns as PHMSA administrator

The American Petroleum Institute (API) last last week published a new set of recommended practices for testing and classifying crude oil for rail shipments and loading crude into tank cars.
The recommended practices include procedures for initial and ongoing sampling and testing of crude for transport classification; criteria for determining the frequency of oil sampling and testing, and how to document results; ways to assign the correct packing group; methods to establish a crude sampling and testing program; and proper quantity measurement processes to prevent overfill when loading crude into tank cars.

"These guidelines are the product of extensive work and cooperation between the oil and natural gas industry, the freight-rail industry and PHMSA to ensure crude shipments are packaged appropriately and emergency responders have the right information," said API President and CEO Jack Gerard in a press release. "This particular standard is one element of a much broader approach to safety improvement. A comprehensive effort that addresses accident prevention, mitigation and response is essential to achieving our goal of zero incidents for crude-by-rail shipments." 

API first began publishing standards in 1924 and currently offers more than 650 standards and technical publications. The institute represents the interests of all U.S. oil and natural gas industry stakeholders, and has more than 600 members.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Quarterman late last week announced she's resigning as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is is responsible for regulating the movement of hazardous materials, including crude oil by rail.

"I appreciate all of the work Administrator Quarterman has done to make progress toward improving the safety of how we move crude oil by rail," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) in a press release.

PHMSA is accepting public comments on U.S. Department of Transportation rulemakings issued July 23 that aim to improve the safety of transporting large quantities of flammable materials by rail, particularly crude oil and ethanol. The comment deadline is set to expire soon.

"[Quarterman's] resignation should not be a reason to delay the finalization of critically important changes to oil car safety rules," said Larsen. "These rules need to get over the finish line, and I’m confident Secretary [Anthony] Foxx and his team will remain focused on having a final rule by the end of the year."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/29/2014