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Federal Legislation & Regulation
Transport Canada issues haz-mat train directive; BNSF moves first unit train from Aventine ethanol plant in Nebraska


Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt yesterday issued an emergency directive to railroads concerning the safe and secure transportation of hazardous goods, including crude oil and ethanol.

Railroads now must slow haz-mat trains to a maximum speed of 40 mph when traveling in highly urbanized areas. The Transport Canada directive also requires increased inspections and risk assessments along key routes used to transport hazardous goods. The directive remains in place until Aug. 17.

CN and CP already have restricted their train speeds to a maximum speed of 35 mph in highly urbanized areas.

“Transport Canada continues to take strong action to safeguard Canadians that live along our rail corridors,” said Raitt in a press release. “The emergency directive … serves as yet another measure to ensure railway companies transport dangerous goods safely and securely.”

Meanwhile, ethanol producer Aventine Renewable Energy Inc. yesterday announced BNSF Railway Co. operated the first unit-train shipment of ethanol produced at the company’s two facilities in Aurora, Neb. The train headed to Birmingham, Ala., where the ethanol will be blended in gasoline.

Aventine now has direct access from a BNSF mainline to its inner-loop unit-train track using a newly installed mainline switch, track and rail crossover.

“It’s a major milestone in executing unit trains out of Aurora, eliminating obsolete single-car switching and moving Aventine assets into the highly efficient unit-train supply chain mode,” said Aventine President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Beemer in a press release. “With our ability to produce 155 million gallons of ethanol, additional economics will be driven by quicker and more efficient moves of ethanol trains into large unit-train consumptive end markets.”

In addition to Birmingham, Aventine aims to tap 100-car unit train markets in Watson, Calif.; Chicago and East St. Louis, Ill.; and Dallas, Houston, Deer Park, Fort Worth, Beaumont and Texas City, Texas.