crude by rail

Crude Oil Transfer by Rail is On the Rise


How to Protect Against Accidents and Spills

With more than 9 million barrels of oil pumped every day, oil production in North America is reaching an all-time high (shale oil especially). Even with recent drops in oil prices, the industry has remained not only resilient, but also surprisingly on the incline.

For the liquid and gas transfer industry, this means improved methods for transporting this massive oil volume must be devised. Fortunately, technological advancements in rail transportation have provided a new way to deliver oil from one place to another.

But this shift toward rail hasn’t come without challenges. After all, crude oil and gases are harmful chemicals that must be transported with care. Safety is of utmost importance when loading and unloading tank cars holding oil.

Higher Volume, Greater Threat of Spills

With the growth in crude oil production and its transport by rail, it’s no surprise the number of car derailments and spills are also on the rise. Accidental oil spills both in the ocean and on land are making headlines across the country. Not only is this a hazard to those working in the industry, the subsequent environmental impact of these spills can be extreme.

This raises a big question: If a derailment does occur on a train carrying crude oil, how can we minimize a spill and its effects? This is where SafeRack can come in and help.
To avoid derailment in the first place, one- and two-way portable derail systems allow trains to derail safely in the event they’re traveling in an unwanted direction. They work on freight cars and locomotives of all sizes and work in both directions. They’re also easy to attach to a current track at any point. Thumbscrews keep the derail system in place, so there’s no need to use wrenches or other tools that could potentially compromise the integrity of the rail surface.

But if a train still does derail, how about managing the oil spill that can result? There are multiple spill containment products out there that can minimize the impact of an oil spill and assist in its cleanup. Containment trays of all shapes and sizes can account for every magnitude of oil spill that could occur. As the name implies, this contains the spill to a smaller area, though some impact will still be experienced. For cleanup, drain plugs help to get oil out of some of the tighter spots on the train track — spots harder to reach with conventional equipment. SafeRack also provides solutions to collect any leakage from the oil tanks themselves until the flow of oil can be completely shut off. Finally, there are decks available for the transportation and temporary storage of barrels containing the spilt oil.

All of this equipment mentioned so far help contain the spill itself. Don’t forget, though, that the workers on the spill site will also need to be outfitted with proper safety equipment and protective gear. This may include full body suits, masks and any other equipment deemed necessary. A number of short- and long-term effects can come into play when people are exposed to crude oil through inhalation. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms, including headaches and nausea, and the potential impacts, such as damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.

If your business has a hand in transporting crude oil via rail, make sure you’re taking the proper precautions against train derailment and crude oil spills that can happen as a result. SafeRack can help guide you toward the right products that fit your facility and application. The right equipment could be the difference between an accident that’s quickly taken care of and one that turns into something far worse.