Oil By Rail

Interactive Tool: Rail Risk & Response Map

Thumbnail image of a web browser showing the Rail Risk and Reponse Map ToolThis interactive map helps identify areas along rail routes in California with potential higher vulnerability and shows nearby emergency response capacity. Users can select the major rail lines in California, hazardous liquid pipelines, refineries, existing and proposed terminals, earthquake faults near rail lines, natural resource vulnerabilities (water crossings and sensitive ecosystems), population vulnerabilities (populated areas, schools and hospitals), and rail segments that have an historically higher than normal frequency of derailments (high hazard areas). Local hazardous materials teams are also shown. This information is provided as another tool to help focus state and local efforts to prevent incidents and enhance and improve emergency response capabilities.

Cal OES appreciates your feedback!  Please click here to comment on this map.

Report: Oil by Rail Safety in California

oil-by-rail-thumbnail-03.pngIn January 2014, the Governor's Office convened a Rail Safety Working Group to examine safety concerns and recommend actions the State of California and others should take in response to the emerging risk posed by increased shipments of crude oil by rail into California. 

This report was published on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 and offers the preliminary findings and recommendations of this Working Group. 

The Working Group includes representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission, California Office of Emergency Services, California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Energy Commission, California Natural Resources Agency, California Office of the State Fire Marshal, Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, and Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

Public Records: Bakken Shipment Notices & Correspondence

​The following documents are deemed public records and have been released to the public.

BNSF Railroad updated notification to California regarding US DOT emergency order (975k - PDF)

Initial notification letter from Union Pacific Railroad to California regarding US Department of Transportation Emergency Order (278 KB - PDF).

Letter of response to BNSF Railroad's request for California to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding Bakken Crude notifications (300 KB - PDF).

BNSF Railroad initial notification to California regarding US DOT emergency order (1.3 MB - PDF).

BNSF Railroad updated notification to California regarding US DOT emergency order (584 KB - PDF).

Public Records Act Requests & Process

US DOT Emergency Order & FAQ's

Cal OES HazMat Stakeholder Updates


Cal OES Hazardous Materials Section

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has a long history of meeting the challenge of responding to major events, whether it involves earthquakes, fires, flooding, drought or hazardous material spills. The mission of Cal OES is: "We protect lives and property, build capabilities, and support our communities for a resilient California." This mission is achieved by serving the public through effective collaboration in preparing for, protection against, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating the impacts of all hazards and threats. Today, there is a new vulnerability to California in the way of oil by rail.

Historically oil has come into California by marine vessels. California is the third-biggest refining state in the United States and is expecting a huge increase of oil by rail from places such as Canada and North Dakota. Over the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in oil by rail coming into California. From 2012 to 2013, the State realized an increase of approximately five million barrels of oil by rail, with current projections estimating the increases to reach 150 million barrels annually. Recent reports indicate that the Western United States may bring 500,000 barrels of light oil by rail a day in 2015. The increase in transporting this highly flammable "light" crude oil from Bakken Shale production area will result in raising the threat to Californians and our environment by increased risk of derailments, explosions, fires, accidental releases, and the potential for crimes and terrorist acts. These emerging threats have placed California communities in a vulnerable position.

The Cal OES, Fire and Rescue Branch, Hazardous Materials Section will keep tabs on this ever expanding field and provide Safety Alerts, Emergency Orders, and general information for our stakeholders. For more detailed information, please contact Chief Thomas E. Campbell at (916) 845-8751; thomas.e.campbell@caloes.ca.gov