April 24, 2017: Train Car Carrying Lithium Ion Batteries Explodes in Houston

A train carrying recycled lithium ion batteries exploded near downtown Houston at 6:00 pm.
Jeffrey Degraff, a representative for Union Pacific, stated an operations manager from a nearby facility notified the conductor that one of the boxes was smoldering. The conductor was able to stop the train and contact emergency crews.
The Houston Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire within two hours. There were no injuries reported but there was some property damage to nearby homes. Anyone that was affected by the explosion may contact Union Pacific to file a claim by calling 888-877-7267.



April 25, 2017: Adjustment of Nationwide Significant Risk Threshold

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued the seventh update to the Nationwide Significant Risk Threshold (NSRT), increasing it from 14,37 to 14,723.
The NSRT is an average of the risk indexes for nationwide gated public crossings where horns were routinely sounded. It was created to serve as a threshold of permissible risk for quiet zones. Communities that wish to establish or maintain a quiet zone can review the Quiet Zone Risk Index and determine whether proper measures have been taken to compensate for the increased risk that comes from prohibiting routine locomotive horn sounding.
The effective date of this notice is April 25, 2017.

Docket No. FRA–1999–6439, Notice No. 25

April 24, 2017: (SA) Use of DOT Specification 39 Cylinders for Liquefied Flammable Compressed Gas

PHMSA issued a revised safety advisory regarding DOT-39 cylinders that exceed 75 cubic inches. The advisory states these cylinders should not be transported or filled with liquefied flammable compressed cyclopropane, ethane, ethylene, or liquifed petroleum gases.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0078; Notice No. 2016–14

April 24, 2017: Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities and Comment Request: Cab Technology Integration Lab (CTIL) Head-up Display Survey

The Federal Railroad Administration submitted an updated ICR that will address concerns and recommendations made by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainman during the previous comment period. BLET suggested FRA collect feedback from locomotive engineers regarding the amount of distraction they face in the cab, expressed concerns that the study limited the craft of locomotive engineer, and voiced concerns about the current study not addressing additional distractions such as Trip Optimizer or Leader.
Interested parties may submit comments on the updated ICR until May 24, 2017.

Docket No. FRA–2017–0002–N–9

April 19, 2017: (FR)(HM-258D) Revision of Maximum and Minimum Civil Penalties

PHMSA issued a final rule revising the minimum and maximum civil penalty that can be issued for a knowing violation of the federal hazardous materials transportation law, regulation, order, special permit, or approval.
Effective April 19, 2017, the minimum amount that can be issued for a knowing violation is $471. The maximum amount, with no severe or fatal injuries resulting from the violation, is $78,376. However, if serious illness, severe injury, or fatal injury does occur the maximum amount of the civil penalty will be increased to $182,877.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0041 (HM–258D)

March 22, 2017: Annual Tank Car Survey

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics submitted a request to OMB for approval to proceed with information collection pertaining to tank car facilities. The information collected will provide an estimate on the tank cars projected to be either built or modified to comply with the new standards. Interested parties may submit comments on the request until May 22, 2017.

Docket No. DOT–OST–2017–0010

April 13, 2017: Site Provides Live Listings of Global Incidents

Staying informed of incidents happening all over the world can be very challenging. While some of those incidents are reported on various news outlets, many are never made public. There is now a way to follow incidents as they happen anywhere in the world. Global Incident Map is a subscription website that allows you to follow 13 different categories of events that include hazmat situations, outbreaks of diseases, border security issues, amber alerts, earthquakes, and terrorism event predictions.

Global Incident MaP

April 13, 2017: (FR) Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act

The Federal Railroad Administration published a request for comments on July 1, 2016, regarding the interim final rule on the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 – as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.
No comments were received so the rule will not be changed. It will be effective as of April 13, 2017.

Docket No. FRA–2016–0021; Notice No. 3