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Crude by rail safety course

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Below are highlights from a press briefing given by American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO, Jack Gerard on crude by rail safety courses for first responders.

“North America’s energy renaissance has brought many changes to the transportation network for oil and petroleum products. We are committed to helping first responders and the public understand what those shifts may mean to them. As the US has become the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, shipments of crude by rail have increased. North America’s freight railroads move 99.998% of hazardous materials to their destination without incident, but the oil and natural gas industry’s goal for safety is always zero incidents.

“This is not a goal that can be reached through any single action of step. Eliminating the last elements of risk requires a holistic and science based approach to better prevent, mitigate and respond to the derailments of trains carrying crude oil. The ongoing work to enhance tank car safety is one element of this work. Our industry acted voluntarily to begin building more advanced tank cars in 2011, and we support further upgrades to the fleet to make it even safer. But to quote former DOT official Cyntiha Quarterman, ‘a new tank car is not a silver bullet.’

“A truly competitive safety effort also requires industry and regulators to do more to prevent train derailments and effectively respond if an incident occurs. Canada’s Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and the head of labour union for workers who build, inspect and maintain railroad tracks have recently noted the importance of accident prevention on the part of our colleagues in the rail industry, just as we are focused on mitigation. But both industries have knowledge and expertise that can help prepare firefighters and other first responders to take the appropriate actions if a derailment involving a crude oil train does occur.

“Since last summer, API, the Association of American Railroads and the member companies in both our organisations have worked to develop a crude by rail education module for first responders.”

“The course, which will complement existing training efforts for firefighters and other first responders, will be taught for the first time this weekend at a conference in Nebraska by instructors from BNSF and at the annual conference for short line railroads in Florida. Participants will learn about the characteristics of crude oil, the rail cars in which it is shipped, and the considerations and strategies for spill response and firefighting that should be weighed. The materials also highlight the importance of following training and the incident command system at all times.

“We partnered with the Federal Railroad Administration to identify states for the initial rollout of this program, which will be offered free of charge at hazmat and emergency response conferences across North America. Requests have also come in from a number of other states, and we intend to fulfil them all. Course offerings are already confirmed or being planned in more than 15 states.”

Edited from press briefing by Claira Lloyd

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