US DOT issues emergency order requiring stricter standards to transport crude oil by rail

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued an Emergency Order requiring all shippers to test product from the Bakken region to ensure the proper classification of crude oil before it is transported by rail, while also prohibiting the transportation of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.

“Today we are raising the bar for shipping crude oil on behalf of the families and communities along rail lines nationwide —if you intend to move crude oil by rail, then you must test and classify the material appropriately,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “And when you do ship it, you must follow the requirements for the two strongest safety packing groups.  From emergency orders to voluntary agreements, we are using every tool at our disposal to ensure the safe transportation of crude.”

Emergency orders are issued to protect the public and environment from the likelihood of substantial harm created by an imminent hazard. Today’s Emergency Order, the fourth from DOT in less than a year, was issued in response to recent derailments involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region and out of concerns over proper classification that are currently under investigation as part of Operation Classification, also known as the “Bakken Blitz.”

Effective immediately, those who offer crude oil for transportation by rail must ensure that the product is properly tested and classified in accordance with federal safety regulations. The Emergency Order also requires that all Class III crude oil shipments be designated as Packing Group I or II, thereby requiring the use of a more robust tank car. Packing Group III, a lower risk designation, will not be accepted, until further notice.

Shippers are required to use nine hazard classes as a guide to properly classify their hazardous materials. Proper classification will ensure that the material is placed in the proper package and that the risk is accurately communicated to emergency responders. Shipping crude oil – or any hazardous material – without proper testing and classification could result in material being shipped in containers that are not designed to safely store it, or could lead first responders to follow the wrong protocol when responding to a spill.

In addition to Operation Classification, which includes crude oil spot inspections and investigations, PHMSA will be in Minot, North Dakota this week conducting a classification workshop. Field personnel will present training at the 60th Annual State Fire School sponsored by the North Dakota Firefighters Association to provide information about hazmat response, including how to use the Emergency Response Guidebook.

Rail safety is a national priority, and DOT continues to work aggressively across multiple fronts to enforce its requirements and reduce risks regarding the safe transport of all materials. PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration have issued several safety advisories related to the safe transport of crude oil by rail, including the recent January 2 Safety Alert and is currently engaged in the ongoing rulemaking to improve the design of the DOT 111 tank car. In August 2013, PHMSA and FRA launched Operation Classification in the Bakken Shale region to verify that crude oil was being properly classified and announced the first proposed fines associated with that ongoing investigation last month. Additional activities include unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic locations that service crude oil.
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Click here to view (pdf) Emergency Restriction – Prohibition Order (Docket DOT-OST-20014-0025

Click here to view (word file) Emergency Restriction – Prohibition Order (Docket DOT-OST-20014-0025

Aberdeen standoff comes to an end in eighteenth hour

The standoff in South Aberdeen came to a peaceful end Wednesday afternoon. In the eighteenth hour negotiators were able to talk 54 year old Michael Watson out of the home with a Washington State Patrol robot. He was seen briefly by Aberdeen medics before being taken into custody. Aberdeen Officer Schmidt tells us “The State Patrol sent in their robot, it has a camera, with a microphone on it, they were able to talk him out. He is in custody, as far as I know nobody’s hurt, he’s not injured, he’s being checked by the aid unit and will be transported to the Aberdeen Police Department.

The man barricaded himself in a home on Harding street Tuesday evening. Officers first responded around 8 P.M. after reports that he was shooting a handgun in the area. An Aberdeen officer reported seeing him enter the home in the 2000 block of Harding Road with a weapon. A Washington State Patrol SWAT team took over the standoff around 10 Wednesday morning, with about the same result until sending in a robot around 2, he walked out just after 2:30 that afternoon.

Police standoff in South Aberdeen continues

A standoff continues this morning, after a man reported to be shooting a handgun in the area barricaded himself in a home on the South side of Aberdeen.
Aberdeen Police Captain John Green tells us officers saw him carrying a handgun as he ducked into the home on the 2000 block of Harding Road near South Boone Street just after 8 last night.
Green said they have seen a green laser being shined inside the home, and have heard what sounds like the beating of a drum at times overnight, but have had no verbal contact with the man.
A Washington State Patrol SWAT team is joining the standoff this morning. Sgt. Patrick with the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department reported no injuries, and said they are not certain if the man has anyone in the home with him.

Back to Health with Dr. Mark Van Hemert February 25, 2014

Tylenol, and what it can cause. Angina. Soda tax. Obamacare, and cuts to home health care. Brazilian Diet. Improving balance in the elderly.

Part 1

Part 2

Local schools get continued Levee support as February special election results certified

Election results were certified last night for the February special election, locally all replacement Maintenance and Operations levies passed, with Oakville’s multi-county race passing by only 4 votes, 210 to 206 with 13 Lewis County voters.
Grays Harbor’s voter turnout ended at 36.3%, while Pacific County reports 53.76% and Lewis 38.7% voter turnout.

Hoquiam is among 12 area school districts showing support for their levies School Superintendant Mike Parker said last week “I’d like to thank the Hoquiam community for supporting our school levee again. With a strong 66% ‘yes’ vote, we’ll continue to make you proud, thank you.

School Districts in Aberdeen, Hoquiam, North Beach, McCleary, Elma, Quinault, Cosmopolis, Wishkah, Ocosta, and Mary M Knight all passed their M&O Levies.

Elma Voters rejected the 8.4 million bond measure to replace the grandstands at Davis Field.

Local projects among 70 statewide, proposed $202 million in loans/grants to protect Washington waters

The Washington Department of Ecology proposes to spend $202 million in dedicated grants and loans to help pay for 70 local projects across the state to protect the health of Washington waters. Included is a low interest loan for a new waste water collection system in the Oyehut/Illahee area that will eliminate 130 existing on-site sewage systems, as well as a loan to replace the outfall diffuser at the City of Aberdeen’s waste water treatment plant. There is also a proposed loan to complete the Shelton Basin 3 Sewer Rehabilitation Construction Project.The funding is contingent on a final state supplemental budget and final federal appropriations. It becomes available at the start of the state’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

 
State financial managers calculate that 11 jobs in Washington are created for every $1 million spent for construction and design funding. That would make this proposed round of funding support more than 2,200 jobs. Over half of these are likely to be local construction jobs.
 
The funding will be directed to water protection on agricultural lands; upgrades and expansions of sewer plants and collection systems; septic system improvements; water protection and cleanup projects; efforts to manage stormwater; streamside restoration projects; and more.
 
Here are highlights of the proposed funding:
 
Port Angeles, Spokane, and King County are proposed to receive $62 million in Revolving Fund loans to correct combined sewer overflows (CSOs). CSOs are discharges of untreated sewage that overflow directly to nearby streams, lakes, and harbors when wastewater collection systems are overloaded by large stormwater flows.
 
Ecology proposes $1.1 million in grants for projects on both sides of the Cascades to protect clean water on agricultural lands. Of this funding:
  • The Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District proposes to enhance streamside areas of the Palouse River and create cost-share programs for no-till, direct seed programs.
  • Okanogan Conservation District wants to implement practices to help landowners protect waters from livestock access.
  • Benton Conservation District proposes to work with the public to understand and prevent nitrate pollution of drinking water.
  • Lewis County Conservation District plans to work on a project to prevent polluted runoff from irrigation practices.
  • In King County, American Farmland Trust plans to field-test strategies to improve water quality in farm areas along Newaukum Creek. 
 
In addition, $190 million is proposed to boost 39 wastewater treatment facility projects. Eight of these are proposed for communities that qualify for financial hardship status. They will receive grants, forgivable principal loans (loans that do not need to be paid back), and loans with interest rates as low as zero percent. The communities are:
  • Chehalis
  • Deer Park
  • Ilwaco
  • Morton
  • Sacheen Lake area of Pend Oreille County
  • Sun Acres in Spokane County
  • Shelton
  • Illayee/Oyehut area in Grays Harbor County
 
Project descriptions and proposed funding amounts can be found online
 
Ecology invites comments about this proposed funding. Email comments to Daniel Thompson at daniel.thompson@ecy.wa.gov or mail them to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, Attn: Daniel Thompson. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. March 24, 2014.
 
Ecology will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed list at 1 p.m., Friday, March 7, at the Pierce County Library, PAC – Processing and Administrative Center, 3005 112th Street in Tacoma.
 
The funding is contingent on a final state supplemental budget and final federal appropriations. It becomes available at the start of the state’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.
 
Funding for Ecology’s integrated loan and grant program comes from a combination of dedicated state and federal monies.
 
Of the $202 million total, $180 million comes from the Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. Another $20.3 million comes from the state Centennial Clean Water Program. And $1.6 million comes from the Clean Water Section 319 Nonpoint Source Fund. Read more about these funds and where the money comes from online.   

Cut cable kills TV for up to 1,000 in the South Belfair, Allyn and Victor Cutoff Road areas

On Tuesday afternoon, February 25, 2014, construction workers accidentally cut through a cable television line belonging to the Century Link Cable company.

The cable was cut around the 23,000 block of State Route 3, Belfair, WA, and areas that may be affected by the cut cable are customers south of Belfair towards Allyn, WA, the Victor Cutoff Road area and on State Route 106, west of State Route 3.  This area may have between 300 to 1,000 customers residing in the north Mason County area.

Century Link Cable Company has advised the Mason County Emergency Communications Dispatchers that they have crews on site and will work around the clock if necessary to restore cable services.

If any customer has any questions regarding their cable service, they are asked not to call 9-1-1, but to contact their cable company.  The Washington State Patrol, the Mason County Emergency Communications Center and the Mason County Sheriff’s

Displaced Emerson Manor tenants have homes until March 31st, as cleanup continues

All of the Emerson Manor tenants have been placed in temporary housing until repairs and cleanup work can be completed on their building. Over 60 residents were evacuated and the building quarantined Monday after hazardous bacteria levels were found in runoff water from a fire.
As of yesterday afternoon, most of them had their pets back as well. Three local hotels, the Econolodge, Travelodge and Guest House Inn have contracted with the county to provide housing until March 31st. The county reports the cost of which will run about 1,700 per person, a special meeting has been announced for Friday to consider amending their contract with Coastal Community Action Program to cover the difference.

Chuck Wallace with the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency tells us they have funding for the rooms until March 31st for all displaced tenants, anyone who left to stay with family or friends can call 532-0570 for details . A chief concern is what to do if repairs are not complete by March 31st? Where does the funding come from to assist at that time?

The exciting part of the day was the reunification of most owners with their pets. Special thanks goes out to all of the local foster home providers for the numerous pets belonging to the tenants who needed to be housed last night because there was no way to care for them at Immanuel Baptist Church.

None of the motel rooms have kitchen facilities and some have no microwave. One of the tasks at hand is how to provide at least one hot meal per day to the tenants. A few local agencies have volunteered to assist for a few days but more are needed. Kitchen facilities are needed as well as a mode for delivery.

 

Cleaning of the building has begun. The clean-up crews are still waiting on additional test results before a complete and thorough cleaning of the building can begin. It is anticipated some tenants will return home to find some furniture has been removed due to water damage and possible mold growth. Hopefully it is limited however assistance will be needed to purchase replacement furniture.

Anchor Bank has set up a fund to assist the Emerson Manor tenants. Please help by going to any Anchor Bank location and ask for the Emerson Manor Assistance Fund. Your donation will be greatly appreciated. Only monetary donations will be accepted.

A tremendous amount of work was accomplished by an army of regional agencies who descended upon Hoquiam and the Emerson Manor Apartments. Words cannot express how much their efforts are appreciated however many are returning home leaving a skeleton staff remaining to see this event through until the last tenant is back in their apartment. Time goes quickly, funding will run low and there is still a task to accomplish. Please help us help the displaced tenants by donating to the Emerson Manor Assistance Fund at any Anchor Bank location

Free CERT training this Spring in Pacific County

South Bend, Washington – The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency (PCEMA) is offering a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course in Long Beach. Training is scheduled as follows:

 

Friday, April 4, 2013 · 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 5, 2014 · 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 12, 2014 · 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

The course will be held at the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort (12415 Pacific Way, Long Beach). Pre-registration is required and is limited to 20 participants.

 

The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your neighborhood in an emergency situation. CERT members receive 20 hours of initial training provided free of charge. The course is taught with classroom instruction for the first two days and practical exercises during the last day. Participants under the age of 18 must have parent/guardian permission to attend.

 

To register or for more information, contact Scott McDougall at (360) 642-9338 or email smcdougall@co.pacific.wa.us.

DNR to host safety conference for professional divers April 7-8 in Seattle

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that online registration is now open for the 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference taking place April 7-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Registration is free, but required.

 

The 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference is designed for divers who earn their living working in underwater professions such as geoduck harvesting, scientific research, salvage removal, and water rescue and recovery. The conference will bring together local, state and national dive experts to present the latest scientific research, technology, and best management practices.

 

“At DNR, safety is an important part of our culture,” said Blain Reeves, DNR Aquatic Resources Assistant Division Manager and conference organizer. “We want to make this conference the best possible experience for all of the participants.”

 

Conference attendees can expect to hear presentations and participate in dialogs with national and regional dive safety experts on the following topics:

  • Diving program at DNR: Overview, history, and sustaining a safe diving culture.
  • Panel discussion with dive safety review experts.
  • Standards governing professional diving.
  • History and regulation of scientific diving.
  • Decompression sickness.
  • Using advances in equipment technology to improve dive safety.
  • EPA task hazard analysis for diving in contaminated waters.
  • Diving risk management course.
  • Developing a dive safety network using technology and social media.

 

Registration will remain open until filled. To view the agenda and to register online go to:  http://bit.ly/dive2014conference.

 

For more information, contact Blain Reeves, 2014dive-conference@dnr.wa.gov, or 360-902-1731.

 

DNR’s Dive Program

The primary responsibility of DNR’s professional dive team is to conduct compliance monitoring of the state’s wild stock geoduck fishery, which is jointly managed by DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Puget Sound Treaty Tribes. These large clams are harvested individually by divers using hand-operated water jets in subtidal areas between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. The dive team also conducts additional in-water and on-water support activities for the agency.