A unit crude oil train led by Norfolk Southern’s “Illinois Terminal” heritage unit rolls through Calumet City, Illinois in March of 2013. The passage of such trains through highly populated areas, and the accuracy with which their loads are characterized, continues to draw heavy scrutiny from regulatory agencies following the disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec in July of 2013. (photo copyright 2013 by Paul Burgess, all rights reserved)
The United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) continues to respond to the disastrous train derailment in La Megantic, Quebec on July 6th, 2013. In that incident, an unmanned and unattended Montreal, Maine, & Atlantic (MM&A) freight train carrying crude oil derailed after a brake failure and subsequent uncontrolled descent down a grade outside the small Canadian town, suffering the explosion of several of its cars as well as the ignition of a catastrophic fire in the town center and killing an estimated forty-seven residents.
After March 31, 2014, a Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods is now required for Section IB shipments of lithium batteries, whereas before it was optional. For the most up-to-date testing criteria reference the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: Tests and Criteria, 5th Edition.
We will publish more on this in the coming days, so stay tuned!
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Shippers of hazardous materials who ship products using the US Postal Service (USPS) may be pleased with a new ruling from that agency. In a response letter dated 31 January 2014 and addressed to the Council On Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) in reference to a September 2013 inquiry made by that body, USPS agreed to a recent COSTHA request to align the Hazardous Materials Regulations appearing in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) with those appearing in the US 49 CFR USDOT regulations, in the following manner: Continue reading
At approximately 1:15 AM EST on July 6th, 2013, a unit freight train of the cross-border operating Montreal, Maine, & Atlantic Railroad (MM&A) loaded with crude oil from the Bakken Shale Formations in North Dakota in the western United States suffered an as-yet unexplained failure of its automatic and manual braking systems while left unattended and presumably safely secured on the MM&A mainline track near the town of Nantes in provincial Quebec, Canada. The uncrewed train then proceeded to “run away” in an uncontrolled and accelerating descent of the 1.2% downhill grade on which it had been left tied down, and at an estimated speed of over 60 mph entered a 10 MPH speed restricted curve in the city center of the town of Lac-Mégantic some seven miles from the train’s starting point for the runaway. Tragically, much of the train derailed and multiple cars loaded with crude oil ruptured, caught fire, and exploded in the heart of the community. The resultant massive fires and sustained release of hazardous chemicals combined to kill or leave missing almost fifty Canadian citizens of the town, injure countless others, and destroy or contaminate much of the city center and nearby lake in a disaster which remains under investigation and for which recovery efforts continue. Continue reading