Rolling classrooms reveal advanced safety lessons for renewables on rail
Business NewsDickinson, North Dakota, Safety
- Railcars modified as rolling classrooms are helping first responders collaborate on safety with employees and contractors at Marathon Petroleum rail terminals in North Dakota.
- A recent, two-day safety training course aboard the railcars provided access to safety components not usually available through conventional training.
- The training took place at the Dickinson rail terminal where renewable feedstocks are delivered, and renewable diesel is loaded for transport.
Rolling classrooms with tablet computers are advancing safety training and collaboration with first responders at Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) rail terminals in North Dakota. The Rail Operations group in MPC's midstream segment, MPLX, recently arranged special training in Dickinson for about 90 Marathon employees, local first responders and contractors that took place inside a modified box car and tank car, providing learning opportunities not available through conventional training.
“This training is above and beyond regulatory requirements and the ongoing training our teams do,” Rail Operations Director John Hack said. “We felt our North Dakota business growth in renewables warranted reinforcing safety at an even higher level.”
Railcar leasing company GATX provided the instructors and reconfigured railcars, which offer access to safety features that otherwise would not be possible. The inside of the tank car has shelves for displaying valves and other safety-related components typically concealed in an operating tank car, allowing trainees to examine them and see how they work as part of the safety system’s design.
The box car’s interior resembles a classroom, complete with projection screens and tables that have tablet computers at every seat to promote engagement. The topics ranged from the regulatory landscape, industry best practices and railcar specifications to inspections, repairs and approaches to handling different commodity types.
"We had the opportunity to learn the railcars from the inside out, giving us an even better understanding of how they function and how we can maximize safety when unloading renewable feedstock and loading renewable diesel."
“We had the opportunity to learn the railcars from the inside out, giving us an even better understanding of how they function and how we can maximize safety when unloading renewable feedstock and loading renewable diesel,” said Dickinson Rail Terminal Day Foreman Michael Blanco.
Instructors also took the training outside, highlighting details of the railcars’ wheels and running gear, as well as providing a view from on top of the tank car. Its roof has several hatches and demonstration features in place to showcase loading and unloading procedures and additional operational safety aspects.
MPC and MPLX employees from the Dickinson, Fryburg and Patterson rail terminals participated in training with contractors and first responders from fire departments in the surrounding areas. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Servil Hoff emphasized how the training strengthened connections that would be vital if potential incidents occurred in the future.
“Bringing a training like this to local first responders makes it possible for more of them to attend because many serve in volunteer departments and can’t take time to travel far away,” he said. “This builds relationships. Having responders on site who have become familiar with our locations and personnel would be very important on a day that we may need them.”