June 1, 2017: Fire Aboard Jet Blue Flight Caused By Lithium Ion Battery

The FAA is investigating another incident involving lithium ion batteries aboard aircraft. During a flight from New York to San Francisco passengers became alarmed when they saw smoke coming from a carry-on bag. The fire was caused by a lithium ion battery in a laptop computer that overheated.
There have been 12 similar incidents on flights so far this year. Some experts have voiced concerns over a possible danger from requiring electronics that contain lithium ion batteries to be stored in the cargo area of the plane in passengers’ checked baggage rather than in their carry-on bags. Should a fire start in the cargo area it can burn unchecked for quite some time. Former NTSB Chair, Mark Rosenker, stated “Frankly, the safety community would find that a greater risk than potentially even terrorism. We do run a very serious risk of some potentially losing the aircraft.”

Fire on JetBlue flight highlights concerns over possible laptop ban expansion

May 26, 2017: Wabtec to Provide PTC for SFRTA

Wabtec Corporation was awarded a $40 million contract to design, install, test, and commission Positive Train Control by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.
Wabtec will be providing Interoperable Electronic Train Management System for 42 locomotive and cab cars, a back office server, wayside communications and signals, dispatch system, training, and system integration. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Wabtec to Provide PTC for SFRTA

May 17, 2017: Union Claims Cameras on Trains Violates Workers’ Privacy

A recent amendment to the Railway Safety Act mandates the installation of locomotive video and voice recorders and not everyone is happy about it. Railroad employees feel this equipment is a threat to their privacy and are concerned that the railway companies will have access to the recordings and can use it to conduct random samples to look for safety risks.
Union president Doug Finnson made it clear that the employees are unhappy about this amendment by saying “From the workers’ perspective, the government has abandoned them. “I’m particularly pissed at this.”
Transport Minister Marc Garneau responded to this concern by stating “There will be very defined times when these can be used and it’s in order to improve safety.” Mr. Finnson believes the government will not be able to control how railway companies use the information gathered from the LVVR equipment. “Transport Canada can’t enforce the regulations they have right now. I have absolutely no confidence in the employer adhering to any kinds of rules and regulations about access.”

Union claims legislation requiring video recording on trains violates workers’ privacy 

May 16, 2017: Canada’s Railways Support Mandatory Installation of Locomotive Voice and Video Recorders

Voice and video recorders will soon be installed on locomotives in Canada. Despite the privacy concerns of railroad employees, TSB and Transport Canada believe using locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVR) will enhance railroad safety. The data collected will be used by TSB for accident and incident investigations, federally regulated companies to conduct analysis through random sampling in order to identify safety concerns as part of ongoing safety management, and Transport Canada for policy development.
President and CEO of Railway Association of Canada, Michael Bourque, stated “We are very pleased with the provision on locomotive voice and video recorders, this technology is working to increase safety in other jurisdictions where it has been deployed. This requirement addresses a key Transportation Safety Board recommendation that has been on its Watchlist since 2012 ”


Canada’s railways support mandatory installation of locomotive voice and video recorders to increase safety

April 28, 2017: HELP Inc.’s PrePass Renewed as Endorsed ATA Featured Product

The American Trucking Association has renewed HELP Inc’s  PrePass services as an Endorsed ATA Featured Product. This allows more than a half a million commercial vehicles from qualified fleets to be pre-screened for federal and state regulatory compliance electronically. These vehicles will be able to continue driving without having to stop at weigh stations. This will save the company time, fuel, and money. PrePass has more than 300 sites in 32 states. It electronically screens the carrier’s safety records and credentials prior to them getting on the road.
Karen Rasmussen, HELP President and CEO, said “PrePass offers the nation’s only complete service for weigh station bypass, electronic toll payment, and safety data management. HELP’s technology leadership and the unmatched accuracy of its PrePass service are testament to why we have been named both and Endorsed ATA Featured Product and an ATA Corporate Partner.”

HELP Inc.’s PrePass Renewed as Endorsed ATA Featured Product

April 10, 2017: Penalties for Hazmat Breaches

Throughout 2016 PHMSA’s Office of Chief Counsel processed a total of 42 cases and 256 tickets. The total amount of fines that were issued as a result of the tickets and cases was $941,404.

Shenzhen Union Trading Co. was fined $66,537 for transporting fireworks without the proper approval and using an invalid EX number.

Airsplat was fined $19,584 for transporting liquefied petroleum gases without the proper labels and markings. It was also discovered that Airsplat failed to properly train their hazmat employees and maintain records of the training.

Vet Specialist, a Phillippines-based company, was fined $18,039 for transporting calcium carbide in packaging that did not meet the required standards, failing to label each package, and not maintaining the required shipping documents.

In June the FAA fined Amazon $350,000 after it was discovered that between February 2013 and September 2015 the company violated the hazardous materials regulations 24 times. Amazon has a history of problems with the FAA over shipping hazardous materials.
Amazon’s trouble didn’t end with the fine. The company was prosecuted and convicted in the United Kingdom when it was discovered that Amazon staff members in China, Romania, and India re-designated dangerous goods as non-dangerous goods so they could be sent via airmail without being subjected to the restricted shipping rules. The items in question were laptop computers containing lithium batteries and aerosol cans containing flammable gas propellants. During the course of the investigation, Royal Mail found 782 packages containing dangerous goods.

Penalties for Hazmat Breaches
(as reported by American Journal of Transportation)

May 1, 2017: Concerns Over ELD and Speed-Limiter Rules

Over a dozen trucking stakeholder groups worked together to submit a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao asking her to delay the implementation of the Electronic Logging Device and speed limiter rulings that are due to be in effect in December 2017. The letter explains that implementing ELD and speed limiters will cost the industry $2.845 billion.

ELD is primarily used by companies who are managing large fleets of vehicles as a way to monitor their productivity. The letter, in part, stated “While we are adamant the ELD mandate must be repealed, we are also concerned by serious complications associated with its implementation, which is currently scheduled for December 2017. We understand many significant technological concerns remain unresolved, including the certification of devices, connectivity problems in remote areas of the country, cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the ability of law enforcement to access information. For example, ELD manufacturers are currently able to self-certify technology without validation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), creating vast uncertainty within the regulated community. This uncertainty has forced many of our members to delay the purchase and installation of ELDs until they can be guaranteed the technology will be compliant“.

In September 2016 the Obama Administration disregarded numerous highway studies that proved the use of speed limiters on heavy vehicles would make the roads less safe for all drivers and released a proposed rule that would make them mandatory. Experts warn that states with speed limits that exceed the maximum level proposed by FMCSA will see an increase in traffic accidents due to the extreme speed differences between automobiles and heavy vehicles. More trucks will be needed to move the same amount of goods which in turn leads to an increase in highway congestion.

The letter concluded by saying “President Trump’s desire to create a regulatory environment that enables businesses of all sizes to grow is commendable and welcomed. However, to do so this administration must eliminate the most egregious regulations developed under the haphazard, one-size-fits-all approach to rulemaking embraced by its predecessor.
The delay and removal of the ELD mandate, as well as the elimination of the proposed speed limiter rule, will provide immediate and overdue regulatory relief to a wide variety of industries, allowing them to devote greater resources to growth. Of all the regulations your department will consider repealing under the Executive Order, none will have a greater positive impact on American businesses than these two costly and burdensome rules. We encourage you to prioritize the ELD mandate and proposed speed limiter rule when identifying regulations for elimination”.  

Letter to Secretary of Transportation
(as reported by NITL)


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 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

January 30, 2017: Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

In an effort to reduce regulation and expenses, President Donald Trump has made several changes since taking office. One of the most important changes he made was placing a regulatory cap on Fiscal Year 2017 that would require agencies requesting new regulations to identify two existing regulations to be repealed.
In addition, the agencies were informed that the total incremental cost of the new regulations and repealed regulations that are to be finalized in 2017 must be no more than zero unless prior written approval has been issued by the Director of OMB.

Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

March 17, 2017: Roundtable to Focus on Emerging Railroad Technologies

The Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee will be holding a meeting to discuss the impacts of emerging railroad technologies at 10 am (EDT) on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

The members of the subcommittee will be joined by representatives from a freight railroad, the railroad technology research center, a rail industry technology supplier, and a labor representative.

Some of the topics that will be addressed include ultrasound, laser, and other forms of technology that could be used to obtain information about the condition of equipment components and track, locomotives that will use data to maximize performance while reducing emissions and fuel consumption and using drones to inspect track and bridges.

The roundtable, Emerging Railroad Technologies, will be open to the public and is being streamed live via webcast.

Roundtable to Focus on Emerging Railroad Technologies

View Webcast 

March 7, 2017: Wendy Buckley will be a Guest Speaker on Road Dog Trucking Radio 

Tune in to Sirius XM channel 146 on Tuesday, March 7, from 2-4pm EST. Wendy Buckley will be joining Mark Willis on Road Dog Trucking Radio to discuss trucking and rail regulations.
Call in during the show and talk to an industry expert to get your questions answered!
(888) 8-ROAD-DOG

Wendy will be joining Road Dog Trucking Radio monthly.
Stay tuned for future dates and times!

February 16, 2017: TSB Calls for Strategies to Reduce Severity of Dangerous Goods Derailments

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is recommending Transport Canada develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments that involve dangerous goods.

This recommendation follows the investigation into the February 14, 2015 derailment of 100 tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil. The accident caused 1.7 million liters of crude oil to spill, ignite and burn for five days. The derailment was caused when joint bars in the tracks failed. This could have been prevented, however, had previous inspections noticed fatigue cracks in the joint bars at that particular location. The pre-existing cracks in combination with cold temperatures and repetitive impacts from trains caused the joint bars to fail. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the training, on the job mentoring, and supervisory support that is provided to an assistant track supervisor are insufficient.

Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB, stated “This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes. The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains—particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids. We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contributed to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating strategies and to amend the rules accordingly.”

She went on to say “The Transportation of flammable liquids by rail has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2014. While stronger tank cars are being built, the current ones will be in service for years to come. The risks will also remain until all of the factors leading to derailments and contributing to their severity are mitigated. This is the focus of the recommendation we issued today.”

TSB calls for strategies to reduce severity of dangerous goods derailments following investigation into February 2015 accident near Gogama, Ontario

February 7, 2017: NTSB Issues Probable Cause for Casselton, ND Crude Oil Train Accident

The NTSB has completed its investigation into the December 30, 2013 derailment of 20 DOT 111 tank cars near Casselton, North Dakota and determined the cause of the accident to be a broken axle. The incident involved two trains. The train carrying grain was using an axle that had been used on a previous train car. When the axle broke it caused the train to derail.  Another train on an adjacent track was carrying crude oil. That train was unable to stop in time and collided with the derailed grain cars.

NTSB issued an urgent safety recommendation to the American Association of Railroads that requires testing to be done on the use of any secondhand axles. In addition, NTSB studied the use of advanced brake systems and additional buffer cars. While the advanced brake system would not have prevented the accident in this case, it may have reduced the amount of damage caused. The crude oil train only had one buffer train between the locomotives and the hazardous cargo. The derailment caused 18 of those 20 cars to spill 476,000 gallons of crude oil. There were no fatalities but the accident and subsequent spill caused almost 1,500 people to be evacuated from their homes.

DOT 111 tank cars have been in the spotlight for several years due to the fact that they are not puncture resistant, there is no thermal protection, they lack top and bottom fittings protection, and are made of relatively thin steel.

The industry has already begun phasing these tank cars out in favor of the DOT 117 tank cars but the official deadline for the discontinued use is not until 2029.  The NTSB Chairman, Christopher A. Hart, believes the “progress towards removing or retrofitting DOT 111s has been too slow”.

NTSB Issues Probable Cause for Casselton, ND Crude Oil Train Accident

February 7, 2017: Wendy Buckley Discussing Rail and Trucking Regulations on Road Dog Trucking Radio

Tune in to Sirius XM channel 146 today, February 7th, from 3pm – 4pm EST. Wendy Buckley will be joining Mark Willis on Road Dog Trucking Radio to discuss trucking and rail regulations.
Call in during the show and talk to an industry expert to get your questions answered!
(888) 8-ROAD-DOG

Wendy will be joining Road Dog Trucking Radio monthly. Stay tuned for future dates and times.

November 28, 2016: PTC Implementation Progress Report Released

FRA has released the third quarter progress information on the Positive Train Control implementation. The information shown in the Q3 2016 report was provided by the railroads and also includes data on track segments completed, locomotives equipped, employees trained, radio towers installed, and route miles in PTC operation.
According to the report freight railroads currently have PTC active on 12% of their tracks. That is an increase of 3% from last quarter. Passenger railroads have PTC active on 23% of their tracks, which is an increase of 1% from last quarter. The overall progress on the passenger railroads was primarily made on the west coast.
FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg stated “In order to achieve full PTC implementation, everyone has to do their part. Railroads must make implementation a priority and Congress must make funding for commuter railroads a priority.” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said “Passenger and freight railroads must continue their progress implementing Positive Train Control and work to beat the deadlines Congress set – because PTC saves lives.”

Latest Data on Positive Train Control Implementation Shows Uneven Progress Across Railroads 

July 26, 2016: Wendy Buckley Recognized As Top Female Executive

STARS is proud to announce that our president and founder, Wendy Buckley, was recently named Top Female Executive by Worldwide Who’s Who.  Ms. Buckley was chosen as a result of the high quality of service that her company provides and her outstanding contribution to the environmental industry.

Top Female Executives, Professionals, & Entrepreneurs – Successful Women Making a Difference

July 26, 2016: Canada Speeds Up Deadline on DOT-111 Tank Cars

On July 25, 2016, The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced Canada will begin phasing out DOT-111 tank cars as a means to transport crude oil as early as November 1, 2016. This new deadline has accelerated the phase-out date by as much as 16 months. Unjacketed DOT-111 tank cars were set to be phased out by March 1, 2017, while jacketed DOT-111 cars had a phase out date of March 1, 2018.
Replacing these tank cars will be TC-117 tank cars, which contain a thicker steel, head shields, thermal protection, and top fitting protection.
The Honourable Marc Garneau stated “Accelerating the phase-out of legacy DOT-111 tank cars in crude oil services is another crucial step in improving the safety of communities along our railway lines. By removing the least crash-resistant tank cars in service, we continue to modernize how dangerous goods are shipped in Canada and further protect Canadians and their families who live near Canada’s rail network.”

Faster timeline for phasing out DOT-111 tank cars

July 13, 2016: PHMSA Online Training Portal

PHMSA has recently announced  its new online Hazardous Materials Training Modules. This will allow users the opportunity to access updated training manuals, track progress, and access various resources and guidance documents. This service is free of charge and may be used to satisfy the general awareness/familiarization training requirements.
To obtain a user id and create a password visit http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat/outreach-training/training-modules