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HAZMAT Discussion: Bitumen, Class 3 Index (DOT ERG ID & Guide 1999 & 130 [Asphalt])
Most U.S. pipelines were made to transport oil, what they weren't made to transport is Bitumen....a product of tar & sands, like those found in Canada.....commonly used for energy purposes. Bitumen is thick...almost like peanut butter, and engineers dilute it with a variety of chemicals so it can flow through the oil transmission pipelines, creating a mixture called Dilbit.....which looks similar to chocolate syrup. 
Bitumen and Dilbit is widely transported not only in pipelines, but also by river, railroad car, and truck transports. Bitumen is produced my many oil companies such as Shell, Marathon, Ashland, Valero, BP, and other North American based energy companies and sources, used as an additive to gasolines and other petroleum products, but mainly used in asphalt. Since the mixture of dilutents vary by company, the health effects from the vapors of Bitumen and Dilbut are complicated to assess the effects on health. A spill in 2010 in Michigan of about 845,000 gallons proved more than complex to remove. As the added chemicals used to dilute Bitumen evaporate (such as acetone), the thicker material stays put. Bitumen is also listed as a potential occupational carcinogen.
Containers involving Bitumen or Dilbet are highly flammable and do not like water when exposed to heat (most common in railroad tank car and truck tank transport), and containers may erupt when sprayed with common fire suppression water or water-based streams. The vapors of this product produce highly toxic gases. SCBA is mandatory when exposed to this substance. For more information check below:
ALS Environmental:
National Academy of Sciences:
Valero Oil Company:
See More
CDC - NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Asphalt fumes

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