There may be a deadline extension coming for Positive Train Control (PTC). Yesterday the Senate approved a bill that would extend the deadline to December 31, 2015. That would give railroads an additional three years to complete their PTC compliance measures. The bill has been presented to The White House and is now awaiting the signature of President Obama .
PHMSA has issued an interim final rule that would prevent passengers and crewmembers from transporting battery powered smoking devices in checked luggage or charging such devices on board the aircraft. However, passengers will still be permitted to have these devices in carry-on luggage. This interim final rule will not effect the current regulations regarding the transportation of lithium batteries and portable electronic devices in checked or carry-on luggage.
PHMSA did not provide an opportunity for public comments or advanced notice prior to amending the regulation because this rule addresses a risk to public safety. At this time interested parties are encouraged to submit comments or relevant information. If warranted, there may be amendments made to the rule as a result of the comments received.
STARS would like to remind those who are involved with packing or shipping dangerous goods for transportation by sea that IMDG Code Amendment 37-14 will be mandatory as of January 1, 2016. Don’t get caught unprepared. Let us help you become and stay compliant. Purchase your IMDG Manual from STARS at a discounted price.
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Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB) has recently submitted a modification request concerning two of the nine conditions specified in its existing permanent waiver of compliance to the FRA. JPB is considering purchasing electric multiple unit vehicles (EMU) that are not currently FRA compliant. They are, however, built to European safety standards. The EMUs would be used for the Caltrain commuter rail service in California that runs between San Francisco and Gilroy.
The first part of the request is focused on Condition 1 of the current waiver of compliance. The modification request asks that the existing condition, which states EMUs must meet or exceed crash worthiness performance levels that were identified and presented in the petition, be modified to align with proposed rule text for alternatively compliant Tier 1 equipment, which was developed by RSAC and its Engineering Task Force.
The second condition is a request to remove condition 7 of the current waiver of compliance, which states that JPB must submit a comprehensive temporal separation plan to FRA for approval before the EMUs are operated. JPB feels the proposed rule text doesn’t require temporal separation since the trains that have been built to these new rules are considered safe or safer in collisions than the trains that have been built to the current standards. Furthermore, JPB stated that it is implementing PTC and the new EMUs will be compatible. This will reduce the risk of an impact between freight and passenger trains.
At this time there are no plans to hold a public hearing on this matter. Interested parties may submit comments through December 4, 2015.
PHMSA has issued a notice of actions on special permits. Applications that contain the prefix EE are Emergency Special Permits. The effected mode of transportation is indicated in the Nature of Application column and has been assigned the following numbers:
- Motor Vehicle
- Rail Freight
- Cargo Vessel
- Cargo Aircraft Only
- Passenger Carrying Aircraft
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety received applications for modification of special permits. Each such request will contain the suffix M to indicate that it is a modification request. Comments will be accepted through November 3, 2015.
PHMSA has announced that some applications have been delayed for more than 180 days. Each application for special permits will include an explanation for the specific reason behind the delay and a date when the application is expected to be completed. Some of the reasons for the delay include the applicant needs to provide additional information, extensive public comments that are under review, extensive analysis is given to those that are complex applications that would have a significant impact or be precedent setting, or staff review has been delayed due to a more pressing issue.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be submitting a request for extension of the information collection request (ICR),Hazardous Chemical Reporting: The Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms, which is currently approved through March 31, 2016. Prior to the submission the EPA is accepting public comments on portions of the ICR through December 15, 2015.
The Federal Aviation Administration released a few strongly recommended actions for certificate holders regarding passengers carrying lithium batteries in their checked luggage. Certificate holders should ensure all personnel handling passenger luggage are aware that they are required to report all incidents involving fire, rupture, explosion or heat sufficient to be dangerous to either packaging or personal safety that occurs as a result of a battery or battery powered device. Make sure the passengers are being informed that spare lithium batteries are not permitted in any of their checked bags. Evaluate the training and communication protocols that your company will follow in the event of an incident involving lithium batteries.
In addition to these recommendations, the FAA also urges certificate holders to ensure that lithium batteries that are in passengers carry on luggage do not exceed the allowable size or quantity permitted by the federal regulations, make sure spare batteries do not come in contact with metal while in the passengers bag, and ensure each battery is individually protected to prevent short circuits.
Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) submitted its Positive Train Control System Plan (PTCSP) to the Federal Railroad Administration for approval. SCRAA is also requesting its PTC System Certification for the Interoperable-Electronic Train Management System, which is designed as a vital overlay PTC system that is in compliance with the PTCSP requirements.
FRA has no plans to hold a public hearing at this time but will accept comments from interested parties until January 6, 2016.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) petitioned the FRA for a waiver of compliance from portions of the railroad safety regulations. SEPTA’s petition focuses on Title 49 CFR 238.309(b)(2) which states that brake equipment and brake cylinders of multiple unit locomotives (MU) that are a part of a fleet which is 100% equipped with air dryers and has a brake system that uses RT-5A – style valves be cleaned, repaired and tested every 1,104 days. SEPTA is asking that the maintenance of the Silverliner V MU fleet, which uses the RT-5A+ brake system and employs a microprocessor based control system, be pushed to 1,840 days, which will fall in line with the maintenance schedule of other air brake systems that also incorporate microprocessor controls.
FRA does not have plans at this time to hold a public meeting but is accepting written comments until November 23, 2015.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed a proposed rule that would revise the import-export of hazardous waste regulations both to and from the United States. The goal of the proposed revisions is to provide more protection for the environment and human health as well as to create more efficient compliance monitoring for international shipments.
This rule will also improve tracking of import-export shipments, create one consolidated set of requirements for all imports and exports, create mandatory electronic reporting to the EPA, and link the consent to export and the exporter declaration that is submitted to U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection.
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety received multiple applications for special permits. Comments on these permits will be accepted until November 2, 2015. The mode of transportation for each permit is indicated by a number and can be found in the “Nature of Application” section. The numbers are as follows:
1 – Motor Vehicle
2 – Rail Freight
3 – Cargo Vessel
4. Cargo Aircraft Only
5. Passenger Carrying Aircraft
The American Trucking Association had previously submitted an application for a preemption determination regarding the requirements of the NYC Fire Department’s permit that would allow transportation of certain hazardous materials through the city via motor vehicles or the transshipment of such materials from NYC. At this time PHMSA is reopening the comment period. Interested parties may submit comments until November 2, 2015.
The EPA has released a new rule that updates the air pollution standards in regards to emissions from petroleum refineries in an effort to ensure a healthy environment for communities that are near such facilities.
The goal of these changes is to control the toxic and potentially carcinogenic air pollutants. This regulatory update aims to ensure petroleum refineries are using the most up to date and effective monitoring and control techniques so that in the event that standard levels of emissions are exceeded corrective action can be taken to protect these communities.
One of the most important changes is the requirement of fence-line monitoring. This is something that has never been done before and is being implemented not only to inform and provide better protection to the communities that are close to refineries but to also strengthen emission controls for flares, pressure relief devices, storage tanks and delayed coker operations. Continuous monitoring of benzene concentrations along the fence-line of petroleum refineries will insure the facilities are managing toxic emissions properly. The fence-line monitors are required to encircle the entire facility so that even low levels of benzene can be detected. The results of such monitoring will then be posted to the EPA website. Additionally, storage tanks and delayed coking units will be required to reduce emissions as well.
Once this rule is fully implemented the toxic air pollutants will be reduced by 5,200 tons per year and the volatile organic compounds will be reduced by 50,000 tons per year. It is important to note that the mandatory, but cost-effective, changes will have no effect on the cost of petroleum products.