Any person who offers petroleum crude oil for transportation or who transports bulk petroleum crude oil by rail must comply with a new Emergency Order issued by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) on February 25, 2014. The Order is effective immediately and is just one of the actions that DOT has taken in the wake of a string of serious mishaps involving the movement of crude oil supplies via railcar. DOT is highly likely to continue to take aggressive enforcement and regulatory actions in an area that is widely viewed as safety-critical.

The Emergency Order requires that petroleum crude oil be tested regularly and for a wider range of characteristics than previously required. It further requires that petroleum crude oil supplies be transported by rail as a Packing Group I or Packing Group II material, even if standard testing shows it is properly characterized as Packing Group III. Non-compliance with the Order can result in a civil penalty of up to $175,000 per day per violation, and knowing, willful, or reckless non-compliance is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, if the non-compliance results in a death or serious injury. 49 USC § 5124.

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