AristaTek, Inc. Releases Written Brief on Explosion, Fireball and Pool Fire Threats from Ignited Crude Oil

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Aristatek, Inc, a leading provider of hazardous materials planning and response solutions, has prepared a written brief detailing the consequences of vapor cloud explosions, fireballs and pool fires for various quantities of spilled crude oil.

Crude Oil Fireball and Smoke Plume During Train Derailment in Cass County, North Dakota, December 2013

Preparing this table and the brief overall is one of our efforts to provide a free but effective resource for those planners and responders attempting to prepare for this threat that isn’t going away any time soon despite the recent drop in oil prices.

The company will make this brief available at no cost to Hazmat teams, fire departments/fire marshals, sheriffs, LEPC/EMA officials or any other public safety/health professionals to assist in their responsibility to protect their communities. The document is available to those that visit the Company’s web site at

This brief entitled ‘Hazards Associated with Spilled Crude Oil’ was written to help with planning and response to accidents involving crude oil by consolidating several key pieces of information important to planners and responders. Crude oil presents several hazards when it is spilled in the environment and summarizes these hazards in a useful table. The first hazards happen when the spilled crude vaporizes, contacts an ignition source, explodes and also rapidly burns in a fireball. The resulting hazards are an explosion who blast is measured in overpressure, and the fireball which has a burn hazard for those standing too close. The other hazard is a burn hazard associated with burning pool of spilled crude. The table offers safe-standoff distances for various quantities of spilled crude for all three hazards. The brief also offers some highlights of the recently issued industry reports on Bakken crude oil detailing characteristics of this type of crude and its lower flash point., and points out several government and industry sources for response information and protocols for emergency response.

“During a train derailment involving crude oil, the immediate threats that responders worry about the most are the vapor cloud explosions and pool fires,” stated Bruce King, CEO of AristaTek. “We felt analyzing these threats and providing an easy to follow table for various quantities of spilled crude would be a useful resource for planners and responders alike.”
According to the American Association of Railroads, there were 362,000 carloads of crude oil shipped in the first three quarters of 2014. This amount is twice that of the same time period only two short years ago in 2012. Several high-profile accidents in 2013 highlighted the inherent dangers this substance can present to communities. Many states have conducted recent surveys of their response capabilities for accidents involving spilled crude and have found their responders largely unprepared for a large accident involving the substance.

“The table of hazards was prepared using our flagship PEAC-WMD software, the world’s leading hazardous materials technical reference and modeling software,” continued King. “Preparing this table and the brief overall is one of our efforts to provide a free but effective resource for those planners and responders attempting to prepare for this threat that isn’t going away any time soon despite the recent drop in oil prices.”

This latest technical brief from AristaTek is a follow-up to their popular brief titled ‘‘Toxic Consequences of Smoke Plumes from Crude Oil Fires’ released in January 2014, which was also prepared in response to the threat of an accident involving crude oil shipments.

About AristaTek

Formed in 1999 by four chemists and engineers who conducted field scale research studies at the Nevada Test Site’s Hazmat Spill Center (HSC) mandated by the 1986 Superfund and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) during the 1990’s, AristaTek has become a leading provider of CBRNE and HAZMAT response and planning solutions to the civilian and military market. PEAC-WMD™, AristaTek’s leading software product, assists in response efforts by consolidating CBRNE & HAZMAT technical reference sources and automating stand-off distance modeling and communication of incident data. The PEAC® software is the industry-standard in the CBRNE & HAZMAT response community, supporting critical CBRNE units such as the National Guard Civil Support Teams (CST), the United States Air Force (USAF) and countless civilian responders worldwide. AristaTek is a certified HUBZone business. For additional information, visit

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C. Scott Bunning
AristaTek, Inc
+1 (307) 721-2108 Ext: 812
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