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Rail Safety

Protecting People and the Environment

The oil and gas industry’s goal is zero rail incidents. Industry efforts are aimed holistically at preventing, mitigating, and responding to incidents involving energy products as they move throughout the rail transportation system. The oil and gas industry is partnering with regulators, the railroads, and other stakeholders to evaluate and improve the safety of rail transportation of crude oil. The industry is committed to using the best science, research, and real-world data to make measurable improvements to safety. An approach based on sound science and data will ensure that any changes to existing standards and practices achieve real safety improvements and do not shift risk to other areas.

TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) is a voluntary national outreach effort that focuses on assisting communities to prepare for and respond to a possible hazardous materials transportation incident. TRANSCAER® promotes the safe transportation of hazardous materials, educates and assists communities near major transportation routes, and aids emergency response planning for hazardous material incidents. TRANSCAER® members consist of volunteer representatives from the chemical manufacturing, transportation, distributor, and emergency response industries, as well as the government. It is sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute (API), American Chemistry Council (ACC), Association of American Railroads (AAR), CHEMTREC®, The Chlorine Institute, Inc., The Fertilizer Institute, and Renewable Fuels Association.

API and AAR members have created a safety awareness course for first responders. The course, which is offered through TRANSCAER® and can be reviewed online or presented in person by a TRANSCAER® approved instructor, is meant to provide information first responders need to know before approaching an incident involving crude by rail. While crude oil is a flammable liquid and should be treated as such during a response, the growth in crude oil by rail has raised concerns about how first responders can be better prepared if an incident occurs. The TRANSCAER® Crude by Rail Safety Course seeks to assist in preparation by describing the characteristics of crude oil and the rail cars in which is it shipped. It also provides the Rescue, Exposures, Confinement, Extinguishment, Overhaul and Salvage (RECEOS) strategies if crude oil is present, firefighting and spill response considerations, and guidelines for structured incident management. This course has been designed for first responders with basic fire-fighting training and is offered free of charge. The TRANSCAER® website provides a calendar list of course offerings.

In 2014, API published Recommended Practice (RP) 3000 for testing, transport classification, and measurement of crude oil loaded into rail tank cars. The development of standards is a major part of API's ongoing work to enhance safety throughout the oil and gas industry, and RP 3000 provides guidance on many important aspects of preparing to ship crude oil by rail.