Archive for Hazmats

IMPORTANT WEB SITE for timely access to Hazardous Materials Railway regulations. // My recommendation is this STARS site

Important periodic weekly updated intelligence that is useful for your business.

Log  onto this S.T.A.R.S. internet site.

STARS stands for the name Specialty Transportation and Regulatory Services

STARS is a consulting firm specializing in all facets of Hazardous Waste Management & Hazardous Materials Transportation for rail and highway movement as well as covering aspects of pipeline wnad waterborne transportation.

They can help you develop the expertise you need to make technically informed safety decisions…      …for practical, cost effective solutions to following complex regulatory rules.

Good way to keep up to date with current regulatory compliance rules.

This is Jim Blaze  Your go-to rail due diligence contact.  I highly recommend these experts.


How to execute a world class solution to complex DOT tank cars rules

How to execute a world class solution to complex DOT tank cars rules.

Railway Age has a very important message about regulatory confusion. So many regulations. How do corporations cope? says-complex-hazmat-transport- regs-would-even-challenge-einstein.html

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Regulators tell you what to change or to do. They don’t tell you how to execute..

“They in fact seldom give advise about the myriad choices of how to comply”. They do not provide training either.

There is a company called STARS that can help you. Starting with training, like I received this past week.

From the RAILWAY AGE current issue :– here is added background discussion this week..

“Is complying with the multitude of regulations for the transport of hazardous materials—also known as dangerous goods (DG)—truly a challenge? According to 136 shipping executives surveyed online in April 2015 by Labelmaster , a provider of solutions for hazardous material transport compliance, even Albert Einstein would have had problems figuring out some of the rules.

More than half of the 136 executives polled—56%—said the brainy Einstein would have difficulties figuring out the 49 CFR, one of the government’s primary reference books that cover regulations, requirements and standards for U.S. hazmat transportation via highway, rail, air and water.

The survey also revealed a majority—59%—find it a challenge to keep with the ever- changing dangerous goods regulations.

As one example, 14% say that “the regulations are confusing—everyone has a different interpretation.” And the regulatory inspectors provide no or little help. Most DG professionals are looking for training and integrated solutions to simplify their role as to what to do now.


There is a real quandary as to “should we retrofit” or “should we abandon what migh be a suitable sunk capital fleet and switch to all new tank cars”?

Washington safety agencies lack the skills to give you guidance. Who pays for the retro fits? Washington has no idea. Why?

Because the thousands of already operating cars are subjects of complex lease agreements. Regulators don’t live in that complex world.

As a business example, if you use DOT type CPC-1232 tank cars, and your lease expires before the mandatory April Fools date of 4/1/2020, how do you handle the financial accounting for any improvements/modifications made between the lessor and the lessee? And exactly what technical modifications should you consider given the liability issues of a failure?

Who do you turn to to for such critical advise? The car manufacturers? Or a source of independent due diligence? Remember that on average you might pay around $60,000 a car for a retro-fit on a tank car with more than 20 years remaining life. But on a new tank car the cost might be more than $135,000.

As an insurance question to your broker, how would the insurance risk be perceived between the retro fit and the new car option? Do they calculate that value difference for you?

The economics are so complex that a special survey is being conducted with the results to be published in an upcoming Railway Age issue. You can contact for more about this. Or contact for a second professional opinion.

Union Pacific announces about $1.70 barrel surcharge on rail tank cars

From multiple news sources.

Rail companies apply market pricing to get shippers to pick safer equipment tank cars.

BNSF previously had imposed a similar surcharge on older tank cars.

Now the Union Pacific has published a seperate price adjustment when shippers select older tank cars.

Sometimes the commercial markets are more affective in promoting safety and operational changes than are government regulations.  Let’s keep our eyes on this trend.

New mobile application for First Responders to crude oil trains accident could be INFO breakthrough

Under development since last fall, the AskRail mobile phone application gives local responders essential train commodity hazardous information even without train on board train information available from the train crew or if it is difficult to reach local BNSF train offices or train dispatchers.

Demo given by the BNSF railroad in Chicago.

A French language version to be released soon for Canada.

Other rail carriers can also use the software application developed in part with RailLinc technical assistance.

Software use will now become part of hazmat training provided by the rail companies.

Other carriers besides BNSF can choose to use the application.

Fire fighters tell their side of resulting fire from oil train accidents

Cude Oil train in Interstate median in front of cntral Albany capital area Crude Oil Train passing adjacent capital area of Albany NY

From a TV report on 06/08/2015 6:59 PM by ALBANY NEW YORK
By: Samantha DiMascio

(DISCLOSURE: My Uncle Jim was a career fireman in Milwaukee)

Firefighters confronted by catastrophic oil train derailments shared their stories with people in Albany today. It was part of a summit put on by the Albany County Executive, and Sheriff at the College of St. Rose.

Over the last five years, the amount of crude oil traveling through Albany has tripled

One listener said that what we learned today is that you cannot fight the fire, you have to run away from the fire and let it burn out.  That is the same message I received when at a seminar in April in Easton PA.  Mostly we evacuate and let it burn out said the fire marshal in Easton.

A local Albany sheriff said warned that on a bigger scale “we didn’t think about the oil going into the sewer systems, taking out water systems, taking out infrastructure”.  Those are worst case scenarios that we might not be able to handle.

A Battalion Chief from Lynchburg, VA had an oil train derail in his city. He stressed to the audience in Albany the need for depth in the emergency response system. “You’ve got to have people in place to backfill positions, you have to have those command functions filled and people able to come in place of someone else’s absence. Because you cannot just ignore other possible fires and incidents happening in your town while you fight the train fire for multiple days.

To put manpower and equipment resources in perspective, Lac Megantic depleted resources from 85 different fire departments over the course of their three week disaster response. “That would wipe out all of Albany County’s 48 departments and put a sizeable dent in surrounding county services” said one Albany firefighter.  Imagine what that might do in an even larger urban area with more population both residential and working day time employees to possibly evacuate.

Who has calculated that catastrophic risk scenario and how recovery and claims would be paid?

For more go to:

BNSF increases track inspection and tank car safety process

In response to growing community concerns surrounding crude oil train movements, BNSF has announced an aggressive track inspection and tank car inspection program.

BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino has told reporters in Illinois that the railway company has tightened its oversight of tank cars and reduced its tolerance for when potential wheel defects would lead the company to pull a car out of service.

The Texas headquartered freight railroad in late March slowed crude oil trains to 35 mph in all cities with more than 100,000 people.

It also increased track inspections near waterways.

It stepped up efforts to find and repair defective wheels.

“We wanted to take some operations steps to further drive safe operations while we waited for the new (tank car) standards” (finally ordered by the federal government in early May).

Most rail tank cars are not owned by the railroads, but by the shippers and oil receivers who lease them to move the oil freight.

BNSF confirms that its trained railroad personnel now inspect the crude oil route tracks that it operates over 2.5 times more often than FRA regulations require as the federal minimum safety standard.

BNSF also reduced the spacing between sophisticated track-side detectors along the crude oil train main line routes to better and more frequently identify wheels and axles that are beginning to fail.


Struggle to find how to pay July 2013 oil train derailment costs & claims in Canada


Report tonight says World Fuel Services (NYSE: INT ) agreed to provide an estimated  $110 Million to a compensation fund for victims of the 2013 Lac-Megantic, Quebec, oil train derailment as part of a settlement with the people trying to identify liability payment sources..

The report is that a subsidiary of INT sold the Bakken light crude oil that was on the train when it crashed and exploded, killing 47 people.

Canadian Pacific Railway, which transported the oil over some of the rail route but not over the track section where the train derailed has not yet settled with those parties seeking to put together a total compensation package say news reports,

The amount of funding found so far may still be about $200 million dollars short of the total liabilities identified in other news reports.

The public issue of how such catastrophic rail shipment risks are covered is still unresolved now almost at the two year date of this accident, And that may also be the public issue here in the United States if a multi billion accident occurred in a major US city.

Multiple causes.  Prime cause was run away train derailing in the middle of the small town

Multiple causes. Prime cause was run away train derailing in the middle of the small town


Under transparency common sense, regulators agree to keep intelligence coming towards responders

After a near month long controversy, the US DOT regulators agreed not to weaken the disclosure of hazardous train movement data to the state emergency responders. It could have easily been done by the commercial rail executives, but was not.

Morning headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer reads ” U.S. won’t weaken oil-train public disclosure rules”. This federal policy reversal comes within two days following a hard hitting Inquirer editorial on the subject. PAUL NUSSBAUM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Posted in paper on Saturday, May 30, 2015 image:

Responding to congressional and public criticism, federal regulators said Friday they would not weaken rules requiring certain disclosures about trains transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials.

The Inquirer reported this week that new oil-train rules issued May 7 – to go into effect in October – by the U.S. Department of Transportation would end a 2014 requirement for railroads to share information about large volumes of crude oil with state emergency-response commissions.

Oil-train safety in Philly will NOT be kept secret

The DOT pre-existing rule “will remain in full force and effect until further notice while the agency considers options for codifying the May 2014 disclosure requirement on a permanent basis,” the agency now says.

DOT admits that “transparency is a critical piece of the federal government’s comprehensive approach to safety”

The federal DOT agency said it supported “the public disclosure of this information to the extent allowed by applicable state, local, and tribal laws.”

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.) told the news press that he was pleased by the agency’s decision. “First responders who risk their lives when trains derail deserve to know what chemicals they could be dealing with when they get to the scene,” Casey said.

Sent from Jim Blaze’s iPad

Oil-train safety kept secret is Headline News Business Report in Philadelphia

"Industrial" by woodleywonderworks from via Creative Commons License

Read the front page business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday. The railroad/hazardous materials secrecy theme is still being hammered by news media.

Is secrecy really possible with such huge train movements?

Ironically, by trying to play “the secret card” with responsible state and local emergency responders that would have keep that intelligence close, the story line about actual repeating train moves has been pretty much been fully vetted as to routes by the free press.

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BNSF Customer Notifications – Customer Letters: Shale Crude Transportation Update on tank car safety

May 19th Progressive Railroading has provided direct access to BNSF revised decision on its previous year announced tank car acquisitions.

There are important leadership points in this announced BNSF revised business strategy.

Included are important facts on their provision of better emergency responder train movement information in the months ahead.

Their letter addresses a number of issues regarding the transportation of crude by rail.

See complete BNSF letter. Some excerpts follow.

Read more