NTSB plans rail safety forum on transport of crude oil, ethanol

By National Transportation Safety Board | April 15, 2014

On April 22-23, the National Transportation Safety Board will convene a forum titled, "Rail Safety: Transportation of Crude Oil and Ethanol." The forum is free and open to the public. No registration is required. The Forum is scheduled to run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

The forum will address rail safety, specific to the transportation of crude oil and ethanol. Crude oil and ethanol transportation by rail has seen phenomenal growth in North America over the last decade, altering the way these flammable liquids are transported. Trains made up predominately, if not entirely, of crude oil and ethanol cars, consisting of DOT-111 general-purpose tank cars and many thousands of barrels of liquid, have become increasingly common. A number of rail accidents, both in the United States and Canada, involving dedicated trains or large blocks of flammable liquid tank cars, have highlighted the vulnerabilities of the DOT-111 tank car and the need for comprehensive risk mitigation and emergency response strategies. The severe consequences resulting from the release of flammable liquids have underscored areas of concern identified in recent NTSB safety recommendations. The NTSB has invited researchers, crude oil and ethanol shippers, tank car builders, railroad carriers, emergency responders, and federal regulatory agencies to discuss the safety of crude oil and ethanol transportation by railroad. The invited panelists will provide presentations about current and proposed initiatives affecting these issues. Panelists will also discuss ways to reduce the consequences from accidents involving flammable liquids through tank car design, railroad operations, and emergency preparedness.

"While the soaring volumes of crude oil and ethanol traveling by rail has been good for business, there is a corresponding obligation to protect our communities and our environment," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "This forum will explore both the risks and opportunities that exist to improve the safety of transporting these important commodities."

The forum panels will include
- Tank Car Design, Construction and Crashworthiness
- Rail Operations and Approaches to Risk Management
- Emergency Response to Tank Car Releases of Crude Oil and Ethanol
- Federal Oversight and Industry Initiatives Related to Crude Oil and Ethanol

The forum will open with a brief review of past crude oil and ethanol railroad accidents, including those investigated by the NTSB and Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The forum will be held in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center, located at 429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W. Washington, D.C. It will be free and open to the public. No registration is necessary. For those who are unable to attend in person, the forum can be viewed via webcast at www.ntsb.gov.

Organizations and/or individuals can submit input for consideration as part of the forum's archived materials. Submissions should directly address one or more of the forum's topic areas (identified by the panel titles) and should be submitted electronically as an attached document to: railsafetyforum@ntsb.gov. Input received will be entered into the public docket for this forum.