U.S. Tightens Rules For Transporting Crude Oil By Train

Emergency mandate comes in wake of several fiery derailments

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The federal government issued an “emergency order” Tuesday requiring shippers that transport crude oil by rail to test the product before putting it on trains to ensure it’s safe to travel.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said that the tests, required for oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region, would ensure hazardous crude is packed in more robust cars. The order also forbids shipping of oil in the low-strength packing.

“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,” D.O.T. Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “And when you do ship it, you must follow the requirements for the two strongest safety packing groups.”

The order comes less than a week after railroad oil shippers agreed to voluntary safety measures to reduce accidents, including reduced train speeds in urban areas. There have been at least 10 incidents where freight trains carrying crude had derailed since 2008, many in the Bakken region, according to the Associated Press. Most of these accidents resulted in disastrous fires or explosions.