House Transportation subcommittee hearing on rail safety

Washington, February 26, 2014, 2:00 pm

House Transportation and Infrastructure railroads subcommittee hearing, "Oversight of Passenger and Freight Rail Safety." Federal Railroad Administration head Joseph Szabo, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration head Cynthia L. Quarterman, National Transportation Safety Board member Robert L. Sumwalt to testify.


Feds issue emergency order on oil shipments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators say they've issued an emergency order requiring tests of crude oil before shipment by rail in response to a string of train explosions and fires since last summer.

The Federal Railroad Administration said Tuesday it also is prohibiting shipping oil using the least-protective packing requirements.

The order is a response to derailments of trains carrying oil from the Bakken region in North Dakota that resulted in explosions and fire, including a train that exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the U.S. border, in July, killing 47 people.


Deaths, injuries growing alongside drilling boom in Texas

Houston Chronicle

Sixty five oil and gas workers were killed on the job in Texas in 2012, a 10-year high, and at least 18,000 were injured from 2008 to 2013, according to the Houston Chronicle, which examined data on workers' compensation claims.

BP Photo

Interior still outspent by industry in hiring, GAO finds

The Interior Department's push to attract more engineers and geologists to manage oil and gas production on federal leases continues to fall short, and that could undermine a new risk-based inspection strategy, a government watchdog has found.

The Government Accountability Office said in a report published this week that a majority of offices in the department's three offshore and onshore energy bureaus reported "ongoing difficulties filling vacancies," as well as annual attrition of some staff at more than double the pace of the rest of the federal workforce.


Railroads confront crude safety

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Railroads that haul volatile crude shipments have reached an agreement with U.S. transportation officials to adopt wide-ranging, voluntary safety measures after a string of explosive and deadly accidents.

A copy of the agreement between the U.S. Transportation Department and the Association of American Railroads was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

It calls for railroads to slow down oil trains through major cities, increase track inspections and bolster emergency response planning along routes that carry trains hauling up to 3 million gallons of oil each. Those trains travel thousands of miles from oil producing areas, including the Northern Plains, to coastal refineries.


BNSF plans to upgrade tanker fleet after accidents

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — BNSF Railway Co. said Thursday it intends to buy a fleet of 5,000 strengthened tank cars to haul oil and ethanol in a move that would set a higher safety standard for a fleet that's seen multiple major accidents.

The voluntary step by the Texas-based subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. comes as railroads in the U.S. and Canada are under intense pressure to improve safety for hazardous materials shipments.

There's been a string of recent train accidents involving oil and ethanol, punctuated by a crude shipment that derailed in Quebec last July and killed 47 people.


Feds should conduct more ND rail inspections: Heitkamp

The Hill

In the wake of the oil train derailment and fire in Casselton, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is demanding that the Federal Railroad Administration conduct more inspections of track in North Dakota, The Hill reports.


Train accidents stir worries about crude transport

BILLINGS, Montana (AP) — At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions.

The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the U.S. since at least 1986. And the deadliest wreck killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Those findings, from an Associated Press review of U.S. and Canadian accident records, underscore a lesser-known danger of America's oil boom, which is changing the global energy balance and raising urgent safety questions closer to home.


Whiting Petroleum well gushing in North Dakota


North Dakota regulators said an oil well owned by Whiting Petroleum Corp. lost control last night and is leaking at a rate of about 200 barrels per day, Reuters reports.


With court action, medical claims from BP spill can begin

The Associated Press

A ruling by a federal appeals court will allow thousands of workers to seek compensation for medical issues stemming from the 2010 BP spill into the Gulf of Mexico, The Associated Press reports.


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