The safety advisory said it was reinforcing its testing requirements for oil produced in the Bakken region of Montana, North Dakota and southern Canada based on the fiery rail accidents last week in North Dakota and earlier in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety A division of the Department of Transportation said in a written statement the advisory was intended to "notify the general public, emergency responders and shippers and carriers that recent derailments and resulting fires indicate that the type of crude oil being transported from the Bakken region may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil."
The agency said the testing would provide a more-complete profile of the chemical properties of the Bakken oil so shipments would be classified as Packaging Group I, which is generally assigned to lighter types of crude. "This means the materials pose significant fire risk if released from the package in an accident," the statement said.
The PHMSA said its crude testing program known as Operation Classification would be expanded to generate more data on the characteristics of Bakken crude and look for ways to potentially decrease the risk of it catching fire.