February 26, 2015: Recent Derailment Leads TSB To Question Adequacy of CPC-1232 Tank Cars

Following the February 14th derailment in Ontario, Canada's TSB is questioning whether or not the CPC-1232 tank cars are adequate. During this derailment 29 cars leaked a substantial volume of diluted bitumen. The Transportation Safety Board released a statement following the preliminary assessment of the derailment that stated "preliminary assessment of the CPC-1232 compliant tank cars involved in this occurrence demonstrates the inadequacy of this standard, given the tank cars' similar performance to the legacy Class 111 tank cars involved in the Lac-Megantic accident." While the cause is still under investigation, the TSB is leaning towards a possible broken rail and a suspect wheel as the cause.

To read the complete article please visit the Hazardous Cargo Bulletin site

February 26, 2015: (PR) Canada Introduces Rail Safety Legislation

Canada's Minister of Transportation, Lisa Raitt, introduced the Safe and Accountable Rail Act this week. This legislation will not only improve railway safety but will also make the rail industry and crude oil shippers more accountable for their actions in Canada. The Safe and Accountable Rail Act is going to make changes to the current Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act.

Some of the proposed changes include requiring federal railway companies to obtain and maintain the minimum levels of insurance. The minimum level will be determined by the type and amount of dangerous goods they are shipping.  Companies that are shipping crude oil are going to be required to pay a levy per ton of crude that is being shipped in order to build a supplementary fund that would be used to pay for damages in the event of an accident. The Minister will be given the  authority to issue a Ministerial Order that would require companies to take corrective measures should it be determined that the implementation of the Railway Safety Management System (SMS) in a way that could potentially compromise railway safety.

To read the complete article please visit Rail Resource or PR Newswire

For assistance with all of your compliance questions please visit STARS website to learn more about their  Hazmat Helpline

February 20, 1015: PHMSA to Host R&D Forum

PHMSA will be holding a research and development forum on April 16, 2015 in Washington, D.C. to present the results of recently completed research projects. PHMSA is also accepting comments on new research projects that may be considered for inclusion in their strategic plan.

To read the complete notice and location information on the forum please visit Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 34

February 20, 2015: (FR) (HM-224F) PHMSA Issues Final Rule and Extends Compliance Date for Transporting Lithium Batteries

PHMSA has extended the compliance date for HM-224F based on comments from multiple stakeholders who were concerned with the challenges faced by the regulated community to fully implement the provisions contained in the final rule. The original compliance date was set for February 6, 2015 but has since been changed to August 6, 2015.

Several of the comments PHMSA received pointed out the fact that new regulations typically require domestic ground shipments of products that contain lithium batteries adhere to shipping standards that, in the past, only applied to international air and sea transportation. The other concern was the amout of consumer products that would probably be impacted by the new rule.

Click Here to read the complete rule and extended compliance date

February 19, 2015: (FR) Complete Mandatory Compliance with GHS Begins June 1, 2015

As of June 1, 2015 all U.S. chemical manufacturers are required to be in compliance with the International SDS and GHS standards. This final rule modifies the HCS and aligns it with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling that has been established by the U.N. OSHA determined the modifications are necessary to reduce cost and burdens while improving the quality and consistency of the information provided to both employers and employees in regards to chemical hazards.

Click Here to view the HCS table that outlines phase in dates for the revised HCS

Click Here to read the complete ruling

February 2, 2015: Foreign Crude Makes a Comeback and Collapses U.S. Oil Railcar Market

Despite overall oil-train traffic maintaining near record highs the several years long bidding war for trains to haul crude oil across North America has come to an abrupt end. The industry is now experiencing the wild fluctuations of the global oil market. The abrupt slump in the tank car market is has more to do with narrowing crude oil spreads combined with ample tank car supply from manufacturers than with the over 50% dive in U.S.. crude oil prices over the past seven months.

Large rail companies have been resolutely upbeat even while facing the growing expectations that the booming U.S.. oil production will begin to slow as early as this summer. Reuters obtained data from energy industry intelligence service Genscape that showed last year's  monthly lease rate for the most common oil rail car was as high as $2,450. However, last month those same cars were  leasing for only $1,300 per month. Tom Williamson, owner of Transportation Consultants, stated "The rates for cars, used to transport more than half of North Dakota's crude, are at their lowest in about three years."  Oil by train traffic surged at least 42-fold since 2009 to approximately 1 million barrels per day but the delivery of petroleum products like crude and gasoline by rail grew by less than 1% in the week of January 22. According to the American Association of Railroads that was the worst week for growth since August 2011.

Falling world crude prices has made it harder for shale producers to offer big discounts. The shrinking margins have made importing crude from overseas a more attractive alternative to shipping domestic oil by rail considering the lower cost of sea transport. The spot market for rail cars has essentially dried up which has forced the owners to either park or convert the cars to other uses. At this time the manufacturers are still working through their orders for new cars that were placed during the surge in traffic. Mr. Williamson stated "There is going to be people out there with new cars and nowhere to ship them."

New freight car orders has fallen 13% from last year's highs and is estimated to drop another 70% this year.

To read the complete article please visit Reuters.com


February 13, 2015: PHMSA Seeking Comments on Information Collection

PHMSA, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, is seeking comments on information collection with regards to the following activities:

  • Testing, Inspection and Marking Requirements for Cylinders
  • Rail Carrier and Tank Car Tanks Requirements
  • Rail Tank Car Tanks – Transportation of Hazardous Materials by Rail
  • Testing Requirements for Non-bulk Packaging

PHMSA previously posted a 60 day notice requesting comments in November of 2014 but did not receive adequate comments. Comments are now being accepted until March 16, 2015.
The specific questions they are inviting comments on are:

  • Is the proposed collection of information necessary for the department to properly function
  • Is the estimate of burden of the proposed information collection accurate
  • Suggested ways to improve the quality, utility and clarity of the information being collected
  • Suggestions on how to reduce the burden of collecting the information on respondents – to include the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology

To read the complete notice and for information on where to submit your comments please visit the Federal Register/Vol. 80, No. 30