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A new crude-by-rail safety course designed for emergency response organizations and fire departments was unveiled by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) yesterday.The introductory course, offered free of charge, is available to first responders via the Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER®) program, of which railroads and oil companies are members.The safety course is now available through TRANSCAER and soon will be available in a DVD format. Course materials cover characteristics of crude oil, a description of the tank cars in which it is shipped, spill response, firefighting considerations and other information to help fire departments and other emergency response organizations learn about the safety of moving crude oil by rail.The program will be offered at hazmat and emergency response conferences across North America, and course offerings are already confirmed or being planned in more than 15 states, AAR and API officials said in a joint press release."Freight railroads are fully committed to the safe movement of crude oil and other hazardous materials by rail," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger. "This course is another example of how railroads and their customers work with communities coast-to-coast to help with awareness and preparedness for any type of incident."