Recent occurrences in the railroad industry have caused many to rethink the protocol associated with shipping crude oil across railways in North America. In fact, BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Corporation has taken it upon themselves to impose additional safety measures for crude oil shipments in both the US and Canada.
The Oil Industry and The Railroad
It’s clear to most of us how crucial the railroad is to many industries, and the oil and gas sector is no exception. In fact, the railroad works very closely with the nation’s major drillers, refineries, and distributors. The railroad hauled as much as 493,126 cars of crude oil last year alone. Thankfully, with as much oil as the railroad hauls each year, there are hardly ever any accidents. The railroad industry is very cautious about transporting hazardous materials.
However, a handful of recent derailments have caused the industry to rethink the approach they take to shipping crude oil. The railroad has already implemented an increase in track inspections, up more than twice as much as regulations require. BNSF alone has pledged to incorporate safety measures beyond the industry standard and looks to be setting a new precedence for all others. One way BNSF has increased their safety expectations is through the removal of potential problems earlier than stipulations mandate. For example, all railroad companies use a system of railway detectors to pinpoint wheels and axles that may potentially fail soon. While there are certain stipulations regarding how soon worn axles and wheels must be replaced, BNSF has pledged to replace these parts sooner than required for additional safety.
Another regulation that BNSF has imposed upon itself is the slowing of freight cars through populated areas. The railroad in general slows freight cars carrying crude oil to 40 mph through populated regions, but BNSF has decided to slow their cars even more. The new BNSF standard is 35 mph through areas populated by more than 100,000 people. In addition to this, BNSF has also increased railway inspections near water sources. While the railroad as a whole is continually committed to safety, BNSF’s recent moves look to set an example of an even higher level of safety protocols.