BNSF, terminal focus on rail safety

By Vancouver Energy On July 6, 2016

Both BNSF Railway and Vancouver Energy make rail safety a priority, said experts at today’s adjudication proceedings.

--Dava Kaitala, General Director of Construction Permitting and Senior Environmental Attorney for BNSF Railway, testified that BNSF has invested $1.5 billion in infrastructure in Washington over the last nine years to meet demand and improve safety, and is planning more than $200 million in Washington infrastructure investments for 2016.

BNSF’s commitment to safety goes far beyond federal standards, Kaitala said. The company has wayside detectors on key routes, in the Columbia River Gorge, and the detectors are in place every 10 miles – quadruple the amount required by the Federal Railroad Administration. The company also does visual inspections on the same key routes at least four times a week, double what the FRA requires.

In the last three years, BNSF has done community training for hazardous materials response with 2,700 first responders in Washington. Also, BNSF has prepositioned emergency response equipment, including fire trailers, each with a 150-mile service radius, along BNSF routes.

Oil-by-rail transport is safe and will remain so, Kaitala said. BNSF has an exemplary safety record, with 99.998 percent of hazardous materials shipments occurring without incident on BNSF systems in 2015.

Go here for more information about BNSF’s safety infrastructure in Washington and here for more background about the company’s national safety investments.

-- Larry Guthrie, a rail safety consultant with TUV Rheinland Mobility Rail Sciences, said the Port of Vancouver has implemented several safety enhancements to ensure that the tracks at the Port are capable of transporting crude oil securely.

--John Hack, senior manager of rail operations for Tesoro, said the Vancouver IMG_7533Energy terminal will only accept rail cars that meet or exceed DOT-117 standards. This is above and beyond federal regulations, which allow for continued use of legacy DOT-111 and CPC-1232 rail cars until they're officially phased out. Learn more about Tesoro's commitment to rail car safety.

Hack added that the concerns over the purported volatility of Bakken crude oil have been resolved by repeated analysis and testing that show Bakken oil to be a Class 3 hazardous material, similar to other light, sweet crude oils.