Feds issue emergency order on oil shipments

Associated Press
FILE - In this July 6, 2013 file-pool photo, emergency workers examine the aftermath of a train derailment and fire in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Federal regulators issued an emergency order Tuesday requiring tests of crude oil before shipment by rail to determine how susceptible it is to explosion or fire, a response to a string of train accidents since last summer involving oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. A runaway train with 72 tank cars of Bakken oil derailed, exploded and burned in the downtown area of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the Maine border in July. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed. Oil trains have also exploded and burned in North Dakota and Alabama in recent months. (AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz, File-Pool)
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FILE - In this July 6, 2013 file-pool photo, emergency workers examine the aftermath of a train derailment and fire in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Federal regulators issued an emergency order Tuesday requiring tests of crude oil before shipment by rail to determine how susceptible it is to explosion or fire, a response to a string of train accidents since last summer involving oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. A runaway train with 72 tank cars of Bakken oil derailed, exploded and burned in the downtown area of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the Maine border in July. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed. Oil trains have also exploded and burned in North Dakota and Alabama in recent months. (AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz, File-Pool)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal regulators are further tightening testing requirements for companies that transport oil by rail after a spate of explosions caused by crude train derailments in the U.S. and Canada.

Thursday's action from the U.S. Department of Transportation builds on a Feb. 25 order that targeted oil shipments for more stringent testing.

Testing has long been required to gauge the volatility of oil and other hazardous liquids. But there were no standards on how frequently that had to be done.

Transportation officials are now specifying that within the "reasonable, recent past" companies must have tested the flash point and boiling point of crude to determine how likely it is to ignite.

Officials are telling companies not to re-label crude as some other volatile product in an attempt to get around testing.

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