PHMSA Seeks Comments On Railcar Safety Proposals

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administra­tion (PHMSA) is seeking public comment to further enhance the safe transportation of hazardous materials by rail tank cars, including the DOT 111 tank car, a type of non-pressure railcar commonly used in North America. PHMSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rule­making (ANPRM) reflects a collection of stakeholder input on railcar safety, including eight petitions for rule­making and four National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

Recommendations in the ANPRM include enhanced tank head and shell puncture resistance systems for DOT 111 tank cars, as well as top fittings protection that exceed current requirements. These steps reflect recommendations from NTSB investigations, while PHMSA has already addressed a fifth recommen­dation with the issuance of an advisory bulletin regard­ing the protection of pipeline facilities near railways.

The ANPRM is the latest action taken by PHMSA to improve the safe transport of hazardous materials by rail, including a recent safety alert advis­ing shippers and carriers that, when required, liquefied petroleum gas transported in rail tank cars or cylinders must be properly odorized, enabling shippers, carriers, and end users to detect leaks.

The agency is seeking public comment for 60 days on whether the proposals in its proposed rulemak­ing would enhance safety, as well as general comments on the regulations that apply to transporting hazardous materials by rail. “Last year was the safest in railroading history, with train incidents down by 43% over the last 10 years, and accidents involving a hazmat release down 16%,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.