North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby gokeefe » Sun May 04, 2014 5:15 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:While of course no minimizing of Megantic can ever take place, this relatively minor Lynchburg incident is going to prove a 'PR nightmare' for the industry.


I strongly agree. There are several mitigating factors which have reduced the psychological impact of the Megantic incident. First and foremost is the perception of operational weakness on the part of MMA. This was a railroad that had a questionable safety record and was using operational techniques which were not considered "best practices". The physical plant was also in questionable condition. All of these factors, some of which had nothing at all to do with the disaster in a forensic sense, had an effect on the public perception of the incident.

CSX on the other hand has absolutely no such reputation. They are one of a handful of massive North American Class I railroads which safely carry enormous volumes of hazardous materials every year. And yet, there they were ruptured tank cars sitting in a river spilling oil and burning the rest.

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Finally, there is no question whatever that CSX has the resources, internal or insured, to satisfy any legitimate claimant in this matter, it appears the PR will be a different story.


I think CSX has a good opportunity to make this a story about DOT-111 cars and not them. I also think that would be a legitimate move on their part. I could also see additional safety restrictions being placed on these kinds of operations in the mean time. For example bumping speed limits down by two classes for this type of cargo (e.g. DOT-111 cars carrying crude oil are limited to Class II speeds on Class IV track).
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun May 04, 2014 6:37 am

Two points come to mind after reviewing Mr. O'Keefe's excellent response to the points I immediately raised.

First, have we confirmed that the Tanks that 'took a swim' were DOT-111's?

Secondly, here is the Journal article from this past Friday (I think the paywall is down for four day old material) that appeared on Page 2, and the photo that appeared on Page 1.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1 ... 2934152004

Brief passage:

    A train that derailed and caught fire in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday was traveling well below a new speed limit set by railroads to try to improve safety in transporting crude oil.

    Railroads said in February that they would slow long oil trains to no more than 40 miles an hour in high-risk urban areas by July 1, in an attempt to prevent explosive derailments such as one in July 2013 that killed 47 people and devastated the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

    Yet the CSX Corp oil train that ran off the rails in Lynchburg Wednesday was traveling just 24 miles an hour when at least 13 of its 105 tank cars derailed on the edge of downtown. Three plunged into the James River. It is unclear how many breached and caught fire, safety investigators say. Flames shot 100 feet into the air. The cause of the derailment, which caused no injuries, isn't known
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby MEC407 » Sun May 04, 2014 7:58 am

25 MPH = Class 2 freight speed, of course. So perhaps DOT-111s need to be operated at no faster than Class 1 (10 MPH) speeds...
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby gokeefe » Sun May 04, 2014 8:38 am

I'm starting to wonder if there's a mechanical design flaw that creates problems with the way loads are distributed to the wheels. Lots of accidents recently. The fires and spills can be explained by tank design and lack of additional safety mechanisms. However the derailments themselves don't have anything to do with tank strength. Remember, even PAR had a similar problem with an oil train derailment.
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Enquiring Mind Wants To Know

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun May 04, 2014 9:24 am

First, allow me a reiteration; has it been confirmed that the Tanks involved at Lynchburg were DOT-111's?

Second, and I am not any kind of Engineer whatever, be that Locomotive, Mechanical, Civil, or Electrical, but I have to wonder to what extent could lateral 'sloshing' of the crude be a factor in these incidents occurring on well managed Class I properties, as distinct from some 'shoe string corner-cutting' Class II that simply was not qualified to handle HAZMAT in any volume. Do any of these Tanks have some kind of baffles within that could minimize the crude from setting up a lateral motion resulting in a derailment? Such was likely not an issue when train consists included a 'Tank or two', but with a unit train of Tanks, that could be a 'horse of a different color'.

Anyone?
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby MEC407 » Sun May 04, 2014 9:32 am

There is a document published by the AAR titled "Field Guide To Tank Cars." I could only find the word "baffle" mentioned once in the entire document; it was in the following note:

Field Guide To Tank Cars wrote:Note: Unlike highway cargo tanks, tank car compartments
are not constructed by applying interior walls within a
single tank. Further, unlike some cargo tanks, tank cars
do not have interior baffles to control lading
surges.


The full document can be viewed/downloaded here: http://www.bnsfhazmat.com/refdocs/1326686674.pdf

(Warning: it's a 9MB PDF document; may take a while to download if you have a slow internet connection)
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby gokeefe » Sun May 04, 2014 10:52 am

I almost asked about baffles but figured it would come up in due course. Nice to see that has happen so quickly.

Mr. Norman,

In regards to Point No. 1, I saw no half-height head shields. Although these cars might be the slightly newer standards (cannot recall nomenclature) they were certainly not the "latest and greatest".
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun May 04, 2014 2:15 pm

I didn't think I was inventing the wheel when I addressed baffles, without reviewing the topic at BNSF forum regarding Cassleton, it seems as I recall, a tank train had taken siding. Could have that move set up lateral motion?

I'd like to think that at Lynchburg 'it's all there' and it is not three miles down in the Indian Ocean. There are professional divers that can recover anything that went in the drink, and the NTSB will be able to determine if a rail was broken account lateral motion. I'd like to think that 'my' railroad (disclaimer: author holds long position CSX) was not playing loose with MOW over which they move HAZMAT. All is just a hunch on my part, that I would be happy to have ruled out as unfounded.
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby ExCon90 » Sun May 04, 2014 2:27 pm

I'm not an engineer either, but I've had the understanding that sloshing does not occur if the car is fully loaded, and economics would seem to dictate that cars be loaded as fully as possible. Are there circumstances under which weight would preclude loading the car to its full cubic capacity (since all liquids don't weigh the same)? If there's any air above the level of the liquid I can imagine a lot of serious sloshing without both transverse and lateral baffles.
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun May 04, 2014 3:47 pm

That's a good point, Mr. Ex Con.

It is one thing to have baffles in the tank of a highway vehicle (a truck) making multiple deliveries to retail gas stations, where the loading will be reduced over a day, or other assigned hours. Now with regards to having railroad Tanks fitted with baffles for a car that is supposed to be full of lading, if it were simply a 'car or two' throughout a mixed consist train, I doubt if there would be an issue. Even if CSX was operating the train that spilled at Lynchburg in accordance with OT-55 and any other controlling directive, there may well be a deficiency with regards to handling Tanks ostensibly fully loaded resulting in lateral motion that could result in this, unfortunately, quite visible 'spill'.

But I really should defer to those with professional knowledge in the matter of handling HAZMAT (I think that means you, Mr. O'Keefe, considering your role in a VFD). I have alerted my previously noted commercial insurance broker/friend to this discussion lest his agency, based in Miami but with a branch in Atlanta, consider 'writing' a Class II for all perils coverage.
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby gokeefe » Mon May 05, 2014 12:15 am

ExCon90 wrote:I'm not an engineer either, but I've had the understanding that sloshing does not occur if the car is fully loaded, and economics would seem to dictate that cars be loaded as fully as possible. Are there circumstances under which weight would preclude loading the car to its full cubic capacity (since all liquids don't weigh the same)? If there's any air above the level of the liquid I can imagine a lot of serious sloshing without both transverse and lateral baffles.


Interesting you bring up the issue of loading. As with many HAZMAT cargos I'm pretty sure they have to leave some room for expansion. Professional railroaders will know more about exactly how much that might be but I would think there would be enough space that sloshing could become an issue. I have to wonder as well if there could be an issue of overloading here. Perhaps these cars are overweight in the first place. Where would they get weighed?
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Desertdweller » Mon May 05, 2014 1:31 am

It has been my experience that harmonic rock can occur mostly between around 13 to 22mph. This is worse on staggered jointed rail.

Tank cars cannot be completely filled, even if weight allowances permitted, because space is needed for the load to expand as temperature rises. Lateral sloshing (due to free surface area) would take place if there was harmonic rocking going on.

Fore-and-aft sloshing is a major consideration when switching and operating at low speeds, especially on grades. When a train of loaded tank cars is stopped, and a ground man wants to "Go in Between", it is important to wait until the contents of the cars have settled down. It is sometimes necessary to put a full set under the cars to keep them from moving.

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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon May 05, 2014 8:05 am

Off topic - but kind of on-topic.

My eleven year railroad career was with a 'granger' road, the MILW, which, along with about five others, made their living handling agricultural products.

I don't think I had all of a week of service with the MILW when a Traffic Dept type was 'welcoming' us new recruits (bunch of rambling war stories) when I heard how great a commodity grain was to handle. 'Just think, no special equipment needed (not all that true today; back then grain was handled in Boxcars fitted with grain doors), and should there be a derailment, you just sweep it up - and most of it is perfectly deliverable'.

Oh for the simpler life; but gotta wonder why all the 'granger' roads are out of business or simply components in the mega-roads of today.
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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby Desertdweller » Mon May 05, 2014 1:51 pm

Gilbert,

Well, I have worked for several graingers of various sizes, and I can think of several reasons off the top of my head.

These railroads' traffic base is very seasonal. You get winter wheat, spring wheat, sunflowers, and corn, in roughly that order. All the products are shipped in the same cars (jumbo covered hoppers).

The car supply never seems to be adequate. Even if there is enough cars, supply is affected by turn-around time at terminals, especially export elevators where trains may have to wait for ships.

In the "old days" (when we worked for the Milwaukee Road), commodities tended to use all purpose boxcars as vehicles for both inbound and outbound loads. No more. Dry fertilizer cars are not normally used as grain cars. Many of them use pressure-differential unloading for fertilizer.

When car supply is tight, there are schemes for favoring the big shippers over the small ones. Train space is sold on bids (COTS trains). Efforts by the railroad to consolidate "mini-units" into regular-sized grain trains defeats the purpose of the unit train tariff: a discounted rate based on one spot-one pull.

Shippers try to play games with the railroad: getting extra free spots and switching; trying to ship unsold trains; breaking the billing on billed trains, searching for a higher market price. If the railroad is cajoled into overlooking these violations. they wind up cutting their own throats. Also opening themselves to restraint-of-trade lawsuits.

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Re: North Dakota Bakken Crude Oil

Postby MEC407 » Mon May 05, 2014 4:43 pm

MEC407 wrote:Not sure if this was Bakken crude, but that seems more likely than not...

Reuters wrote:A CSX Corp train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia on Wednesday, spilling oil into the James River and forcing hundreds to evacuate.

In its second oil-train accident this year, CSX said 15 cars on a train traveling from Chicago to Virginia derailed at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Photos and video showed high flames and a large plume of black smoke. Officials said there were no injuries, but 300-350 people were evacuated in a half-mile radius.

City officials instructed motorists and pedestrians to stay away from downtown, while firefighters battled the blaze. Three railcars were still on fire as of 4 p.m., CSX said.

The fiery derailment a short distance from office buildings in the city of 77,000 was sure to bring more calls from environmentalists and activists for stricter regulations of the burgeoning business of shipping crude oil by rail.


Read the rest of the article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/ ... YW20140430


It has since been confirmed that the CSX train in Lynchburg was indeed carrying Bakken crude.

Source: http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/k ... f6878.html
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