Canada: Transport Canada Brings New Crude-By-Rail Regulations Into Force

Transport Canada has published Regulations Amending the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (Update of Standards), which will come into force on July 15, 2014. The new amendments formalize into regulation:

  • the requirements of consignors of crude oil to properly classify the crude oil by a test or lab report, to certify that shipping documents fully and accurately describe the crude oil and to keep shipping records; and
  • the new design and construction standards for DOT-111 rail tank cars carrying crude oil and other dangerous substances.

Proof of classification

The classification of flammable liquids such as crude oil is based on the flash point and boiling point of the liquid.

Crude oil is a naturally occurring mixture of various substances for which the representativeness of a given sample can vary greatly, based on many factors. Hence, there can be difficulties in classifying crude oil to meet Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations requirements.

Starting July 15, 2014, consignors must keep a record of how they classify crude oil for transportation purposes. This addresses a gap in the information available to inspectors to validate the classification. It also addresses a Transportation Safety Board recommendation, made on September 11, 2013, to review classification procedures and processes.

The proof of classification is to be available from the consignor of crude oil, and carriers are able to ask consignors to provide such proof to them. The amendment eliminates confusion and uncertainty about what actually constitutes proof of classification.

Consignor's certification

A consignor's certification is a statement added to the shipping document certifying that the consignment of crude oil has been prepared in accordance with the applicable regulations. The International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and the United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 already require consignor's certification. Hence, adopting this certification requirement will create harmonization with international regulations.

New tanker car standards

The new standard for rail tank cars (Standard TP14879) includes a requirement for all new tank cars used to transport dangerous goods in packing groups I and II to implement features for increased safety.

These features are already in place for new tank cars carrying some dangerous goods, including those for crude oil, as under the Association of American Railroads rules, all DOT-111 tank cars ordered on or after October 1, 2011, for petroleum, crude oil and ethanol service included in packing groups I and II must have the additional safety features that are now being added in the Canadian regulations. They include top-fitting protection, half-head shields, increased thickness of the heads and the shell for non-jacketed tank cars and the mandatory use of normalized steel.

These amendments for classifying crude oil were first proposed in January 2014 and were the subject of a previous legal update. The amendments concerning design changes for rail tank cars were discussed in our May 2014 legal update.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

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