May 17, 2020

Coal Shipment Safety: Third Major Mid-Atlantic Freight Train Derails

Association of American Railroads
U.S. Department of Transp
3 min
Recent accidents raise questions about coal transportation safety
On Thursday morning a train hauling 8,000 tons of coal partially derailed in Bowie, Md., which was less than 24 hours after a train loaded with crude oi...

On Thursday morning a train hauling 8,000 tons of coal partially derailed in Bowie, Md., which was less than 24 hours after a train loaded with crude oil derailed in Lynchburg, Va., causing an explosion and a 50,000 gallon spill.

Trains carrying coal crisscross the United States and Canada daily without incident but a recent uptick in derailments over the past two years has had some repercussions for the industry. Last week, the Association of American Railroads and the U.S. Department of Transportation called on railroads to slow their fuel-loaded trains through major cities, increase track improvements, bolster emergency response planning along the routes, according to the Associated Press.

In 2013 alone there were 19 coal train derailments in the U.S. and Canada – from Hew Hampshire to Louisiana to Alberta. In 2012 there 22 derailments and in 2011 there was 11.

No single commodity is more important to America’s railroads than coal. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), coal accounted for 41.0 percent of rail tonnage and 21.6 percent of rail gross revenue in 2012. Railroads have typically derived more revenue from coal than from any other commodity. Class I gross revenue from coal was $14.7 billion in 2012, down from $16.1 billion in 2011, according to AAR.

Most of that coal was consumed at U.S. coal-fueled power plants. Coal has dominated U.S. electricity generation because it is such a cost-effective fuel choice, and freight rail is a big reason for that. More than 70 percent of the coal delivered to coal-fueled power plants is delivered by rail. According to the Energy Information Administration, “much of this coal is transported in unit trains of 120 coal cars going from a single mine to a single power plant over distances that can exceed 1,000 miles.”

And with all this coal being shipped by rail across the continent there is bound to be a lot of coal dust on the tracks, which might play a role in derailments.  

When investigators are looking into derailments, coal dust on the tracks is typically something they consider may have been a factor in the incident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. In addition, the Surface Transportation Board recently recognized that coal dust poses a serious problem for railroad safety and operations. The Board has acknowledged the safety and maintenance issues brought on by coal dust fouling track ballast.

According to the AAR, the industry has adequate safety measures in place for trains and railroads that transport hazardous materials. Railroads use a sophisticated statistical routing tool designed to determine rail routes that pose the least overall safety and security risk for the transportation of certain hazardous materials. This tool, developed in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, uses 27 risk factors — including hazmat volume, trip length, population density along the route, and emergency response capability — to assess the safety and security of rail routes.

In addition, according to AAR, railroads work closely with state and local leaders and emergency responders across their network to ensure that communities understand how railroads operate and are prepared in the event of an accident.

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Dec 3, 2020

Net zero benefits the mining industry and the environment

digital mining
Dan Brightmore
3 min
Learn how to future proof your business for a zero-carbon world with help from Emitwise and the Oren Marketplace.
Learn how to future proof your business for a zero-carbon world with help from Emitwise and the Oren Marketplace...

How do we get the world to net-zero faster?

Emitwise’s founders, Mauro Cozzi, Eduardo Gómez and Ben Peddie, approached a network of more than 100 of the world's largest enterprises and asked their CEOs, CFOs, and sustainability managers the big question: How do we get the world to net-zero faster? The challenge many shared was the lack of timely and accurate emissions data to enable strategic decisions. Companies often relied on annual audits of their carbon footprint for carbon accounting purposes. However, static yearly results were outdated upon publishing.

Emitwise saves companies an average of 260 working days a year by automating their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions data. With the added benefits of clean audit trails and auto-populated accounting reports in line with GHG Protocol, all at the click of a button. Their easy to use solution enables businesses to quickly identify the carbon hotspots to target, and the precise real-time data empowers teams to remain agile and respond effectively, making achieving those goals possible.

Unique AI Technology

Emitwise’s unique AI technology empowers businesses to automatically measure, report and reduce their carbon footprint across their operations and supply chain, future-proofing companies for a zero-carbon world. It is the only solution that enables companies to fully automate their carbon accounting across all business units and suppliers, therefore liberating them from the drudgery of collecting and processing emissions data.

By using artificial intelligence to precisely measure emissions in real-time, businesses can identify and tackle carbon hotspots swiftly, enabling them to devise a trackable roadmap to net-zero carbon. At the same time, accurate audit trails and auto-populated annual reports ensure that companies comply with international reporting requirements, and align businesses with global climate targets to mitigate risk across their operations and supply chain. 

The Oren Marketplace

Environmental management, social license to operate, safety, renewable energy to lower emissions and operational efficiency for mining can be supported by a range of digital solutions enabling dynamic operations. To address these issues, Shell and IBM joined forces to create the Oren Marketplace – the first B2B solutions platform for the mining sector. 

With the adoption of many of the digital solutions offered through Oren, mining companies can adapt in real-time to risks or adjust plans ahead of a problem occurring. The goal is a shift towards proactive management as the optimal outcome for all stakeholders – community, shareholders, and employees.

Emitwise was founded with the goal of helping industries across all sectors reduce their carbon footprint. Similarly, Shell aims to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner, in step with society and its customers. And Oren is focused on offering innovative products and services that can help mining companies track and reduce their emissions. 

“Oren is the starting point for how we help our mining customers to de-carbonise,” explains Carol Chen, Global Lubricants Marketing, Vice President, Shell. “It’s our ambition to work with sectors like mining to help them find their own pathway to net-zero emissions through collaboration. The Oren marketplace offers a great opportunity for collaboration between the miners and technology companies that are joining this digital marketplace.” 

Web Summit

Emitwise will be showcasing its vision for a net-zero future live from Lisbon at this year’s Web Summit. Bringing together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry, the online event welcomes 100,000+ attendees from around the world to hear from more than 800 speakers and view offerings from 2,500 startups covering a vast range of topics from Data Science and Climate Change to AI and Machine Learning. To find out more and book your ticket visit Web Summit. 

Emitwise is one of many solutions providers on the Oren platform seeking to address the pain points and environmental concerns of heavy industries like mining. To discover a range of solutions that can further support your operation’s digital transformation and commitment to sustainability, visit the Oren Marketplace.

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