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Oil companies under scrutiny following derailments

Recent explosive train derailments have put safety concerns in the oil industry back in the limelight. Just Last year, 47 people died when a train carrying oil derailed in Quebec. Issues have been raised over shipping oil by rail and inaccurate labeling of containers. Recently, the Department of Transportation cited three large oil companies for mislabeling their crude oil tanker cars. Of the 18 samples taken from cargo tanks, 11 were found to be mislabeled. The department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration  fined the three companies $93,000.

Corporations may be held liable for injuries caused by dangerous products they manufacture, sell or distribute. This is known as product liability. A lawyer can help you understand your rights in such a case in Montana.

Proper labeling of crude oil containers is required by law. It alerts emergency responders to the level of risk posed by a shipment. It is irresponsible for oil companies to give insufficient warning to those who handle dangerous petroleum products. The transportation secretary stated that the penalties were warnings to the rest of the industry to label their crude oil tankers appropriately.

The Department of Transportation has also raised concerns over crude oil from the Bakken in North Dakota. It warned that oil from the region was more volatile than ordinary crude.  The administration has been testing crude samples for months and investigations are ongoing. It also intends to check pressure and other characteristics of Bakken crude. Oil corporations should take appropriate precautions when transporting their dangerous products.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. Oil Companies Fined For Mislabeling Crude Shipments in First Move after Series of Derailments”, Patrick Rucker, Feb. 12, 2014

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