Crude Oil on the Railroad

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Changes 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.

 

BNSF Train pulling cars

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.

Railroad Regulations

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.

A major factor to the new regulations is the inclusion of a new or enhanced kind of braking system. The new stipulation from the feds is to include a new, electronically controlled, pneumatic braking system on all cars carrying crude oil.  These new braking systems are said to be capable of slowing a train quicker and safer than the current systems in place of railcars. These new braking systems will be required for trains carrying 100 or more tankers filled with petroleum product.

As sensible as this all seems, there have been many to voice their concerns against the new rule.  The American Railroad Association has come out to say that this will be far more costly than the feds have considered, and could result in negative operational impacts on a network that fuels so much of the nation’s economy. In addition to the concerns of the American Railroad Association, the American Petroleum Institute feels that the window on implementing the new regulation will make it unrealistically difficult to get rid of the old tankers by 2020, the proposed date to phase out all old braking systems.

On the other hand, a certain unnamed advocacy group has been reported to have expressed concerns that while it is a good step to start with the brakes, the new regulation does nothing to help with derailments.  Ultimately, this group feels the powers in charge of the new regulations need to do more to ensure additional safety.

While even more changes await the railroad industry, Powerblanket is ready to help keep trains running. Railcar heating, tank warmers, snow melting mats are just a few of the ways Powerblanket is an integral part of America’s rolling freight system.


Custom Hazardous Location Heaters

Working in hazardous locations means you have to exercise serious caution regarding procedure, protocol, and equipment usage. What’s more, heating in hazardous locations takes all the more care and detail to make certain you aren’t adding fuel to a potential fire. This is why Powerblanket offers products certified to national safety standards.

CID2Difference between Class I Division 1 and Class I Division 2

Many people who work in hazardous locations are familiar with these terms. For everyone else, here’s an explanation. The classifications referenced as CID1 and CID2 regard the operation of electronic equipment in hazardous locations. CID1 is the identifier used for locations where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, mists or vapors could possibly exist under normal working conditions. This classification also covers locations where the same gases, mists or vapors may exist frequently due to repairs or maintenance in the area. It also includes potential scenarios where gases, mists or vapors could be leaked by faulty or damaged equipment.

CID2, on the other hand, represents all locations where concentrations of flammable gases and/or vapors and/or mists are present in the air under operating conditions outside of the norm. So CID1 covers areas where such hazards are normally present, and CID2 covers areas where such hazards aren’t normally present but certainly could be under abnormal circumstances. Most importantly, if a product is CID1 or CID2 certified, it means that product is safe to use in locations that are CID1 or CID2 rated hazardous locations.

We understand that hazardous location heating is nothing to take lightly. And we understand that heating products should be engineered to the highest standards of quality and safety. We’ve based our business on this simple reality and are able to customize our safe and innovative heating solutions to a myriad of industries because of it. Our custom heating solutions can be designed and certified to Class I Division 2 (CID2) safety standards. We are certified for all four gas Groups, A, B, C, and D and up to a T4 Temperature Classification.

Freeze Protection in CID1 and CID2 environments

Hazardous situations can present themselves even when the temperature is below zero. Flammable gases and material are not limited by how cold it is outside. It is very important that you know what options you have in keeping temperature sensitive material warm when some methods of doing so are restricted due to CID1 and CID2 location hazard ratings.

Insulation can help reduce the impact of cold weather on your equipment, but using a heater is more effective so long as the one you use does not compromise workplace safety.

Are heaters unsafe to use?

Some heating options are a really, really bad idea to operate in CID1 and CID2 environments. Any type of open flame heater, including propane heaters and torches, greatly increase the chance of ignition of flammable material, potentially leading to an explosion of catastrophic proportions. Unit heaters or location heaters are also a poor choice due to the lack of directional control over heat output.

Heat trace can sometimes be used, depending on what type of hazards are in the work area, but electrical wiring within the tape could be accidentally cut and exposed, igniting vapors and resulting in destruction.

The best choice for C1D2 hazardous location freeze protection is heated blankets, ideally ones manufactured by Powerblanket.

Powerblanket heating blankets hazardous location heaters

Powerblanket provides products that are certified to C1D2 hazardous location equipment safety standards. So when it comes to heating in C1D2 hazardous areas, Powerblanket is both an efficient and safe choice. In addition to these ratings, Powerblanket products are also certified to UL, and CSA standards.

Powerblanket’s innovative approach to providing industry-specific heating solutions has helped customers save a lot of time and resources to safeguard and increase efficiency among the assets that keep their businesses running. So whether it’s freeze protection, viscosity maintenance, curing assistance, or some other heat-related dilemma, Powerblanket can help, even if you operate in a hazardous location.

For more information, call Powerblanket’s hazardous location heating specialists at 866.945.4203 or email us at [email protected] 

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