Sealing Shielding

Non-Accidental Releases (NAR's) in Railroad Tank Cars

Manway GasketWouldn’t you want a train containing 2.5 million gallons/ 60,000 barrels of crude oil traveling through your town to be safely secured? 

The catastrophic accident on July 6, 2013 in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec (the largest of several incidents in North America in 2013), has renewed governmental attention on the transportation of crude oil.  While the public is principally focused on preventing derailments, the reduction - if not elimination of Non-Accidental Releases or NAR's – is also getting increased scrutiny.

In this first blog of a series of five, Parker’s ISS Division addresses the increasing trend of NAR's, the economic and environmental issues relating to the shipment of Crude Oil in US.

Where are NAR's occurring?

There were still 575 reported NAR's in 2012 (Treichel, 2012).  Part of what is causing this is the growing number of shipments – which rose by 443% between 2005 and 2012 and are on track to exceed 380,000 in 2013.

With this growth, the number of NAR's associated with crude oil shipments has also gone up, accounting for over 18% of all NAR's in 2012 – up from 7% in 2011 (Treichel, 2012).

Of the total 575 non-pressurized tank car NAR's in 2012, over 42% related to the manway gasket. The leading attribute causes being:

  • 118 caused by loose bolts
  • 63 by a deteriorated gasket
  • 28 due to a misaligned gasket
  • 24 due to a gasket missing altogether

The effects of NAR's on shippers

The responsibility of ensuring the safe envoy of crude oil ultimately rests with the shippers. In pursuit of adhering to best practices, the cost, consequences and effects of safe passage and avoiding NAR's include:

  • Shippers being fined - as well as being liable for all costs associated with the response and clean-up
  • Injuries to railroad personnel
  • Shipments delayed while the car is secured and paperwork filed
  • Local communities expending resources to respond to the NAR
  • Railyards possibly being shut down
  • The shipped product can become contaminated

Fines levied by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) alone can average $8,900 per incident.  In addition, shippers can be held responsible for the cost of any associated clean-up, hazmat response, and railroad accessorial fines (see NAR Cost Calculator).  What is not included are the costs associated with delayed shipment.  If a car should leak, the tank car needs to be removed from the train and set aside until the necessary paperwork can be completed and the U.S. DOT approves the use of the tank car again.

SummaryManway Gasket

The data clearly shows the correlation of increasing NAR's to the number of shipments. More importantly, the data also shows that 50% of these NAR's are a function of human error and the other half the result of issues pertaining to the gaskets used to seal manways. Neither of these need to happen and a remedy to them does exist - the Parker Manway Nozzle Gasket! The question is how to communicate and promote this solution to ensure everyone’s safety and eliminate these needless accidents?

You can find more support and technical information at this Support Link and watch this short video on Manway Rail Gaskets.

To read more from the Sealing & Shielding Team, click here Face Seal - Sealing Fundamentals.

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