Bakken Crude Oil Railcar Cleaning in North Dakota

You might be transporting Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, which, at some point, is going to require cleaning your railcars.

Railcar cleaning project alongside rail spur

“The problem with cleaning railcars that transport Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, is the higher risk of combustible gases inside the railcar,” shares AWS Industrial Services member Tim McVay.

The three questions you might be asking yourself are:

1) Which railcar cleaning company is experienced with the higher risks of combustible gases from Bakken crude oil?

2) Who can meet the strict AAR standards and comply with my audit requirements for cleaning railcars?

3) Who can meet my tight deadlines for railcar turn-around time without a lot of extra car movement?

To help you clean your railcars that transport Bakken crude oil, I’ve shared some specifics about our experience in railcar cleaning, meeting strict standards and reducing turn-around time.

Experience with Railcar cleaning and Bakken crude oil

“I’ve never seen a railcar so clean,” shared one of our railcar cleaning clients from Beaver Falls, PA. “You could take a bath in that car.”

Getting this kind of praise and feedback from our clients is awesome, but there’s quite a bit of planning and experience that goes into a railcar cleaning project.

View from inside the railcar tank.

“You feel good when your client tells you no one else has ever been able to get the bottom of the railcar clean, and you did! It’s awesome,” shares AWS Industrial Services member Rich McVay.

When we clean Bakken crude oil sludge and remove heel build up from railcars we have 2 major technical concerns:

  1. Eliminating the risks of combustion inside the tank and
  2. Planning for confined space entry (and rescue if necessary).

Eliminating the risks of combustion inside the tank.

Because Bakken crude oil has a higher vapor pressure, it gives off more combustible gases than other crude types.  This makes each railcar unique depending on the amount of oil or oil sludge that needs to be removed.

“We’ll remove any oil in the railcar with one of our high-powered vacuum trucks before removing sludge build up or heel. The liquid oil is then recycled at our nearby oil processing facility,” shares Mark Lob AWS Operations Mgr in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

We’ve invested in state of the air-monitoring devices and ventilation systems to ensure the safety of our crew when cleaning the inside walls and tank bottoms.  Additionally, we are experts at performing tank cleaning while on supplied air.

Confined Space Entry and Rescue

Railcar cleaning requires confined space entry and our crews have all the permits, certifications, monitors, confined space equipment with the PPE necessary for confined space entry.

All crews are fully trained in all the aspects of OSHA regulations, entry procedures, duties of team members, permit preparation, Lockout Tagout, equipment use and demonstration and rescue activities.

In addition, all crew members receive additional training whenever a new piece of equipment is purchased as well as annual “refresher” courses.

When you interview a confined space entry team to clean your railcars here’s 5 questions to ask before you hire them:

1) Does the railcar cleaning company own their equipment?

2) What is the tenure and experience of the employees that will perform the railcar cleaning?

3) Request to meet the employees that will perform the service. Are they Professional? Knowledgeable? Would you hire them?

4) Do they know what a “tailgate meeting is?” What do they cover during their “tailgate meeting.”

Compliance with AAR Standards

Our clients that request railcar cleaning have strict standards.  This dictates what a “clean railcar” is. As a result, we’ve developed a railcar cleaning procedure to meet these high standards that includes:

  • Confined Space Permit
  • Documentation of “heel” or “remaining commodity”
  • Certificate of disposal or recycling
  • Photos of cleaned railcars.

Reducing turn around time and car movement

Equipment designed for railcar cleaning.

Railroad spurs and railcars are not always easy to access.  Our diverse vehicle and equipment fleet makes it easy to access even the most difficult spots.

An example we designed, patented and build the Vacsimizer for difficult cleaning projects like railcar cleaning where off-track access is extremely limited.

The difficult process of removing the heel or oily sludge requires a high-pressure water blaster. These are incredibly dangerous pieces of equipment, but are necessary to remove the sludge in a timely manner.  We take great pride in our ability to effectively use a water blaster in a confined space cleaning project.

Strategic Locations.

Our Cedar Rapids, Iowa facility has a strategic location with 5 major railroads intersecting through Cedar Rapids and nearby Iowa City.

Five major railroads intersect Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Iowa City, Iowa

Five major railroads intersect Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Iowa City, Iowa

  • Union Pacific Railroad
  • Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railroad Co.
  • Iowa Interstate Railroad LTD.
  • Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad
  • Canadian National Railway Co.

Our Milwaukee, Wisconsin facility is also strategically located with 4 major railroads intersecting through Milwaukee.

Advanced Waste Services is strategically centered in the middle of the railroads for railcar cleaning.

Advanced Waste Services is strategically centered in the middle of the railroads for railcar cleaning.

  • Union Pacific Railroad
  • Canadian Pacific Railroad
  • Canadian National Railroad
  • Wisconsin & Southern Railroad

And our New Castle, Pennsylvania facility is equally convenient by rail, being served by the:

A railroad spur is adjacent to our New Castle PA facility.

A railroad spur is adjacent to our New Castle PA facility, significantly reducing turn-around time for our railcar cleaning clients.

  • CSX Railroad
  • Norfolk Southern Rail Line
  • New Castle Industrial Railroad

The New Castle Industrial Railroad is a short line that switches cars for both CSX and Norfolk Southern main lines.

What makes Advanced Waste Services uniquely qualified is our ability to combine rail services with permitted processing facilities, which results in reduced turn-around times and increased convenience and cost effectiveness, all while reducing extra car movement costs as well as environmental and other liability risks.

To learn more about Advanced Waste Services download the crude oil railcar cleaning services pdf, visit our website or call us at 800-842-9792.

Advanced Waste Services | 800-842-9792


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