The Department of Transportation amended its emergency restriction regarding the transportation of oil via rail Thursday, making sure shippers correctly classify crude oil for transport and stressing that Class 3 oil must be classified only as a hazardous material in Packing Group I or II.
DOT noted that each violation will carry a $175,000 fine, and shippers will also be subject to additional fines and jail time.
“Not only can properly classified shipments mitigate injury and damage when accidents occur, they are necessary to enable the most effective and informed emergency response,” DOT noted in its amendment
. “Indeed, the accurate classification of hazardous materials in transportation can protect the safety of emergency responders and others who may come into contact with the material.
“Moreover,” it continued, “crude oil transported by rail often derives from different sources and is then blended, further enhancing the potential range of appropriate classifications.”
The National Transportation Safety Board also announced Thursday that a public hearing regarding rail transportation of crude oil and ethanol has been scheduled for April 22 in Washington, D.C. NTSB has called for the discussion, it said, to address tank car designs, emergency response, rail operations, and federal oversight.
"While the soaring volumes of crude oil and ethanol traveling by rail have been good for business, there is a corresponding obligation to protect our communities and our environment," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. "This forum will explore both the risks and opportunities that exist to improve the safety of transporting these important commodities."