BELLINGHAM, Wash.—A refinery in northwest Washington state says it will no longer accept any volatile North Dakota crude oil unless it arrives on newer-model tank cars.
By the first week of October, the BP Cherry Point facility had stopped using pre-2011 standard tank cars, known as DOT-111 cars, for the shipments, The Bellingham Herald reported.
The change comes amid public concern about the safety of shipping crude by train. Since 2008, derailments of oil trains in the U.S. and Canada have seen the older 70,000-gallon tank cars break open and ignite on multiple occasions, resulting in huge fireballs. A train carrying Bakken-formation crude from North Dakota in the older tanks crashed in a Quebec town last year, killing 47 people.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which recommended upgraded regulations for crude oil and ethanol cars in 2011, is working on updating rail safety standards and could require companies to phase out the DOT-111 cars for shipping crude oil during the next couple of years
Cherry Point was already using newer, safer tank cars to receive about 60 per cent of its crude oil, but expedited the switch to the newer cars in response to community concerns, BP spokesman Bill Kidd said. The refinery now uses a fleet of about 700 newer cars, called CPC-1232s.
The newer cars have thicker shells, head shields on both ends and improved valve protection.