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Transportation Rail Incident Preparedness & Response: Flammable Liquid Unit Trains

While the information contained in this news article was current and accurate when we posted it, it may not necessarily represent current WVOEMS policy or procedure. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 304-558-3956.

Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 9:00 AM

Transportation Rail Incident Preparedness & Response: Flammable Liquid Unit Trains

Resource Fact Sheet

TARGET AUDIENCE: Hazardous Materials First Responders/Operations Level


The Transportation Rail Incident Preparedness and Response Flammable Liquid Unit Trains resource materials provide critical information on best practices related to rail incidents involving Hazard Class 3

flammable liquids such as petroleum crude oil and ethanol. A key component of this initiative is to learn from past experiences and to leverage the expertise of public safety agencies, rail carriers, and industry subject matter experts in order to prepare first responders to safely manage rail incidents involving commodities such as crude oil and ethanol. The information and resources found in the TRIPR modules and scenarios supplement the information outlined in the "Commodities Preparedness and Incident Management Reference Sheet for Petroleum Crude Oil."


This U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) led program resulted from collaborative efforts to expand awareness on incident management

lessons learned related to rail incidents involving Hazard Class 3 flammable liquids such as ethanol and crude oil. These resources offer a flexible approach to increasing awareness of first responders and

emergency services personnel in pre‐incident planning and response. The resources supplied are not intended to be a standalone training program but are offered to supplement existing programs.


All of the information is easily downloadable for public safety organizations and instructors. Each module contains a PowerPoint presentation, Student Workbook, and Instructor Lesson Plan. In addition

to these materials, there are three interactive scenarios with animation and introduction videos to help instructor's lead tabletop discussions. All information can be edited and modified to suit the instructor's needs.


With an increase in the production and movement of commodities such as crude oil and ethanol by rail and highway, it is important that the risk of incidents be minimized through a strategic approach. U.S. crude oil production averaged 8.5 million barrels per day in 2014 and in 2015, according to Energy Information Administration projections, it will average 9.0 million barrels per day. This is a considerable increase since 2008 when the U.S. crude oil production fell to 5.0 million barrels. Along with the increase in production, the volume of crude oil moving by rail quadrupled in less than a decade.  According to the Association of American Railroads, 9,500 carloads of crude oil were transported in 2008 compared to 407,761 carloads in 2013. Recent derailments involving crude oil shipments renewed focus on the safe transportation of bulk hazardous materials by rail. Denatured fuel ethanol, also referred to simply as "ethanol", is also routinely transported by rail. Ethanol preparedness and response information is included to round out this information resource.

PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have been working with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), TRANSCAER®, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), rail industry owners

and operators, the American Petroleum Institute (API), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the emergency response community to address the hazards associated with incidents involving hazardous

materials unit trains.

In May 2014, a Lessons Learned Roundtable forum and follow‐up report gathered feedback from a panel of fire chiefs and emergency management officials from some of the jurisdictions that experienced a crude oil or ethanol rail transportation incident. The forum's purpose was to share firsthand knowledge about their experiences responding to and managing these incidents. Further collaboration with stakeholders resulted in the development of the Crude Oil Rail Emergency Response Workgroup which subsequently created the Commodities Preparedness and Incident Management Reference Sheet for Petroleum Crude Oil. The information in the reference sheet and the expertise shared during these collaborative efforts are the backbone of this program.


Anthony H. Murray

Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team - Eastern Region

Office Of Hazardous Materials Safety, Field Operations

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

United States Department of Transportation

820 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 306

West Trenton, NJ  08628

Phone: (609) 989-2181

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