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Regulatory Alert: US DOT Emergency Order – Test Bakken Crude Shipped by Rail


Regulatory News Alert

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) issued an emergency order (The Order) mandating:

…the proper testing (conducted with sufficient frequency and quality) and classification of petroleum products (i.e., petroleum crude oil) prior to them being offered into transportation…At a minimum, the tests shall be capable of determining the petroleum crude oil’s flash point; boiling point; corrosivity to steel and aluminum; presence and content of compounds such as sulfur/hydrogen sulfide; percentage presence of flammable gases; and, the vapor pressure at 50°C…

US DOT issued The Order in response to several accidents involving shipment of petroleum crude oil by rail since the summer of 2013, some of which caused deaths, injuries, and significant property damage. Any person failing to comply with The Order is subject to civil penalties of up to $175,000 for each violation or for each day they are found to be in violation (49 U.S.C. §5123).  A person violating The Order is also subject to criminal prosecution, which may result in fines under title 18, imprisonment of up to ten years, or both (49 U.S.C. § 5124).

Environmental Standards, Inc. provides petroleum refining and distribution companies a range of services to assist in compliance with The Order, including:

  • Pre- and post-selection evaluation of testing laboratories, including:
    • Laboratory pre-qualification review prior to submitting samples for analysis (e.g., technical review of the Quality Assurance Manual, Standard Operating Procedures, etc.)
    • Laboratory auditing
  • Development of technical and quality specifications, including:
    • Sampling specifications
    • Testing specifications
    • Laboratory QC system specifications
    • Reporting specifications
  • Assessment of test results, including:
    • Expedited approval, review and validation of laboratory test results data
    • Troubleshooting of anomalous test results

For more than 25 years, Environmental Standards has worked with oil companies which have complex technical, legal, and public relations issues. Contact Environmental Standards, Inc.’s Chemistry Quality Assurance experts today for assistance in developing a proper quality assurance program.

Rock J. Vitale, CEAC – Technical Director of Chemistry/Principal
David I. Thal, CEAC – Quality Assurance Specialist/Associate Principal