• ITVI.USA
    15,948.420
    108.680
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.798
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.010
    -0.060
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,936.600
    100.010
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,948.420
    108.680
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.798
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.010
    -0.060
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,936.600
    100.010
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

NY Attorney General petitions PHMSA to limit crude-by-rail vapor pressure

A proposal from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman calls on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to reduce the risk of explosions from crude train derailments by setting a nationwide limit on vapor pressure.

   New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has petitioned the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to reduce the risk of explosions from crude train derailments by setting a nationwide limit on vapor pressure.
   Schneiderman sent a proposal to the federal agency responsible for regulating the transportation of hazardous materials that would close a loophole that currently allows highly flammable crude oil to be shipped by rail.
   The petition for rulemaking Schneiderman submitted to PHMSA would require all crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. to achieve a vapor pressure of less than 9.0 pounds per square inch. Vapor pressure is a crucial determinant in the explosiveness and flammability of crude, and safety advocates argue setting a limit would significantly reduce the dangers of transporting oil in train tank cars.
   According to Schneiderman, the rail industry has for years already employed technology to process crude oil that reduces or removes the combustible gases that make crude oil so highly volatility.
   “The technology is well-known and readily-available,” said Schneiderman. “Known as ‘stabilization,’ the technology reduces crude’s vapor pressure by removing the volatile propane, butane, and ethane gases – often capturing these valuable gases for sale. Stabilization is commonly used in various sectors of the oil and pipeline industries to limit the vapor pressure of certain highly flammable liquids. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, various states, and pipeline operators across the country have adopted vapor pressure limits for gasoline, which require shippers to employ similar stabilization technology.”
   Crude oil shipments by rail have grown from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 493,126 carloads in 2014, an increase of over 5,000 percent, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. Schneiderman noted many of these trains travel on routes that pass through major metropolitan areas in New York and across the country.
   In the past year, however, crude-by-rail volumes have dropped significantly with oil prices plummeting due to concerns of global oversupply and the economic recession in China. And North American railroads have struggled to compete with pipelines and other transportation methods for their share of the dwindling volumes.
   “Despite several recent derailments of trains carrying crude that have resulted in extraordinary explosions and uncontrollable fires – including the horrific Lac-Mégantic, Quebec accident where a derailed train burst into flames, destroyed the downtown area, and killed 47 people – there is no federal limit on the vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail,” said Schneiderman. He argued reducing crude oil vapor pressures to levels below 9.0 psi is not only practical, but necessary for minimizing the risks and severity of accidents involving railroad tank cars.
   “Recent catastrophic rail accidents send a clear warning that we need to do whatever we can to reduce the dangers that crude oil shipments pose to communities across New York State,” added Schneiderman.  “In New York, trains carrying millions of gallons of crude oil routinely travel through our cities and towns without any limit on its explosiveness or flammability – which makes crude oil more likely to catch fire and explode in train accidents. The federal government needs to close this extremely dangerous loophole, and ensure that residents of the communities in harm’s way of oil trains receive the greatest possible protection.”  
   Several New York county executives, mayors, assemblymen and environmental activists also voiced their support for the Attorney General’s petition in a statement from Schneiderman’s office.

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