Coffee Break Training: Petroleum Crude Oil Transportation and Response Considerations   [open pdf - 136KB]

"Throughout the world, huge quantities of crude oil and natural gas are trapped in nonpermeable shale rock. Over the past few years, technological advances -- especially in hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') and horizontal drilling -- along with higher crude oil prices have made recovery of much of this oil and gas economically feasible. United States crude oil production has risen sharply in recent years, with much of the increased output moving by rail. In 2008, U.S. Class I railroads originated 9,500 carloads of crude oil. In 2013, they originated 407,761 carloads. To date, the most important U.S. shale deposits are located in North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wyoming and Colorado. Rail shipments of crude oil from these regions are typically made using unit trains. Unit trains of crude oil are single commodity trains that generally consist of over 100 tank cars, each carrying approximately 30,000 gallons of crude oil. Unit trains typically move from one location (e.g., shipper's production facility or transloading facility) to a single destination (e.g., petroleum refinery). Given the usual length of these trains (over a mile), derailments can cause road closures, create significant detours, and require response from more than one direction to access the scene of the incident. In the event of an incident that may involve the release of thousands of gallons of product and ignition of tank cars of crude oil in a unit train, most emergency response organizations will not have the available resources, capabilities or trained personnel to safely and effectively extinguish a fire or contain a spill of this magnitude (e.g., sufficient firefighting foam concentrate, appliances, equipment, water supplies)."

Report Number:
Coffee Break Training - Hazardous Materials Series No. HM-2014-2
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/
Media Type:
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