WASHINGTON Jan 16 Rail operators may route some
fuel shipments around urban areas and slow down trains carrying
some dangerous deliveries in the wake of a recent spate of fiery
derailments, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation said on
Secretary Anthony Foxx said that after several mishaps, the
oil industry has committed to share what it knows about the
dangers of crude produced in North Dakota's Bakken region.
"I was heartened to hear the industry say to us that they
have a strong and vested interest in the safety of material
being transported around the country," Foxx told reporters in a
conference call after a two-hour meeting with leaders of the oil
and rail industries.
A spate of explosive derailments, including one in Quebec
last July which killed 47 people, has led to concerns over the
safety of shipping crude oil by rail.
That shipment originated in Bakken, as did two others that
derailed with uncommon force in recent months and have drawn
"Everyone in the energy supply chain has a role to play in
safety and there are many ideas on the table," said Holly
Arthur, spokeswoman for the American Association of Railroads
which represents track owners.
AAR has urged regulators to set tougher tank car safety
rules while the petroleum industry has faulted the railroads for
not doing more to keep trains on the tracks.
The process for writing new rules could go on for months as
regulators digest the views of stakeholders and clear
bureaucratic hurdles, officials have said.
For many producers, moving crude oil on railcars has been
the preferred means of bringing the product to refineries.
Some 71 percent of all oil produced in North Dakota was
transported by rail in November, or around 800,000 barrels per
day, according to the state's Pipeline Authority.
That compares with 500,000 bpd transported in November 2012,
when 58 percent of the oil had been transported by rail.
In recent weeks, regulators have sampled crude oil at
wellheads and train loading stations in North Dakota to try and
understand why that fuel seems more prone to explode than other
types of crude.
Cynthia Quarterman, who oversees dangerous train shipments
as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration (PHMSA), said on Thursday that officials should
know more within days about the makeup of that fuel.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker and Timothy Gardner)