DOT Issues NPRM for Crude Oil and Flammable Materials in Rail Cars

The U.S. Department of Transportation released the details of its comprehensive rule making proposal to improve the safe transportation of large quantities of flammable materials by
rail — particularly crude oil and ethanol — in the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

The NPRM proposes enhanced tank car standards, a classification and testing program for mined gases and liquids and new operational requirements for high-hazard flammable trains (HHFT) that include braking controls and speed restrictions.

Specifically, within two years, it proposes the phase out of the use of older DOT 111 tank cars for the shipment of packing group I flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars are retrofitted to comply with new tank car design standards.

These changes stem from the apparent volatile nature of oil coming out of the Bakken Formation in Western North Dakota. The crude is thought to contain high levels of methane and propane that make the oil more flammable than originally classified. The various amounts of gases included in crude oils varies, which makes it difficult to classify individual loads in rail cars. Following accidents in Quebec, North Dakota, and other states involving Bakken crude shipments, the DOT has singled it out as particularly dangerous, paving the way to change classification rules, alter tank car specifications and requirements, and shipping logistics involving crude oil from that region.

The changes Continue Reading…

Are We a Trucking Company?

According to the FMCSA or the DOT as we call it there are a number of ways that you could be considered a trucking company under interstate regulations. One definition of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is found under 49CFR 390.5 and states that a vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating tag found on the doorframe of most trucks) of over 10,001 pounds is a CMV. Other definitions are found elsewhere under the federal laws and when you add in each individual state requirement’s it gets to be confusing.

1. Do you have a vehicle with a GVWR of over 10,001 pounds? (49 CFR 390.5)

2. Do you have a single unit vehicle with a GVWR of over 26,001 pounds? (49 CFR 383.5)

3. Do you have a vehicle with a combination GVWR of over 26,001 pounds or greater? (49 CFR 382.107)

4. Do you have a three axle (two drive or tandems) with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or greater?

5. Do you have a vehicle with a GVWR of over 57,000 pounds?

6. Do you have a vehicle originally designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver?

7. Do you have a vehicle which transports placardable amounts of Hazardous Materials?

8. Do you have a vehicle which requires a driver to have a CDL to operate it?

9. Do I transport Hazardous Materials that are not placardable?

If you answered yes to Continue Reading…