Saturday, July 26, 2014

Crude oil shipments from North Dakota’s Bakken region found to be improperly classified

WASHINGTON — Government investigators have found crude oil being transported from North Dakota’s Bakken region was misclassified in samples taken from 11 out of 18 truck shipments en route to rail loading stations, federal transportation officials said Tuesday.
Hazardous materials shipments are supposed to be classified into one of nine categories depending on the risk involved. If the materials are misclassified, they could wind up being shipped in less protective rail tank cars and emergency personnel might follow the wrong protocols when responding to a spill, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

The agency said it proposed fining three companies involved in the shipments — Hess Corp., Whiting Oil and Gas Corp., and Marathon Oil Co. — a total of $93,000.
A runaway train with 72 tank cars of Bakken oil derailed and exploded in the downtown area of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the Maine border in July. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed.
The accident was a wake-up call for safety officials, who were surprised by its severity. Tests of Bakken oil show it is more volatile than other types of crude. Canadian officials have said the oil carried by that train had been misclassified as a less dangerous type of crude, and they’ve urged U.S. and Canadian regulators to ensure dangerous goods are accurately labeled.
Oil shipments from the Bakken region have soared in recent years.

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