June 16, 2017: Applications for Modification of Special Permits

The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety has received nineteen applications for modification of special permits. Interested parties may submit comments until July 3, 2017. Comments must reference the application number and be submitted in triplicate.

List of applications for modification of special permits

June 16, 2017: Notice of Applications for Special Permits

The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety received sixteen applications for special permits. Interested parties may submit comments on any application until July 17, 2017. Comments must refer to the application number and be submitted in triplicate.

Hazardous Materials: Notice of Applications for Special Permits

June 7, 2017: Regulatory Cooperation Council Stakeholder Webinar

The Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Action Plan, Health Canada, and OSHA have been working together to align the hazard communication regulations regarding workplace chemicals in the United States and Canada.
Health Canada and OSHA will be hosting a webinar on June 28, 2017, from 1:30-2:30 EDT for stakeholders to discuss future regulatory updates.
Interested parties are asked to join the webinar a few minutes early as there are only 300 seats available.

Access Webinar
Conference Number: PW4215051
Participant Password: 3535510

Participants wishing to join webinar via telephone:
Call-in toll-free number: 1-800-857-9638 (U.S. & Canada)
Call-in number: 1-630-395-0498 (U.S. & Canada)

May 22, 2017: Survey of Plant and Insular Tourist Railroads Subject to FRA Bridge Safety Standards

Railroads serving plants and moving railroad equipment over bridges that are within the plant are asked to advise FRA by email or phone if there are railroad bridges within the plant that may be subject to FRA Bridge Safety Standards.
FRA has also requested it be notified by email or phone if insular tourist railroads have tracks that are supported by one or more bridges.
Interested parties may submit comments on this notice until July 21, 2017.

Docket No. FRA–2017–0002–N–15

May 4, 2017: RSAC Meeting Has Been Rescheduled

The 57th meeting of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) that was originally scheduled for January 26, 2017 has been moved to May 25, 2017. Some of the topics that will be discussed during the meeting include status reports from the Engineering Task Force, FRA will present the Hazardous Materials Working Group recommendations to review portions of the HMR and ask for a vote at that time.
This meeting is open to the public, however, it is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Docket No. FRA–2000–7257, Notice No. 85


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 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: (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

March 28, 2017: FRA is Seeking Public Comments Regarding Information Collection Activities

The Federal Railroad Administration is seeking public comments on the information collection request that was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. Specifically, FRA is seeking comments on whether the information collection activity is necessary in order for FRA to perform its functions, the accuracy of FRA’s estimate of burden, ways to enhance the quality and clarity of the information being collected, and how the burden of the collection activity can be reduced.
Interested parties may submit comments until May 30, 2017.

Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request

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 21, 2017: Hazardous Materials: Volatility of Unrefined Petroleum Products and Class 3 Materials

The comment period for the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the volatility of unrefined petroleum products and Class 3 materials has been extended. The comment period will now conclude on May 19, 2017 rather than the original date of March 20, 2017.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0077 (HM–251D)

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 

February 27, 2017: PHMSA Issues Notice Regarding IMDG Code and ICAO Technical Instructions

PHMSA has issued a notice to offerors and carriers of hazardous materials regarding the 2017-2018 ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and Amendment 38-16 of the IMDG Code.
At this time, PHMSA has not made a final decision on whether or not it will be adopting the recent changes to the international standards. Until a decision has been made offerers and carriers will be permitted to use either the 2015-2016 or 2017-2018 standards for markings and labeling. The FAA, FRA, FMCSA, and PHMSA will be following this enforcement discretion until such time as this notice has been modified or rescinded.

PHMSAs Notice Regarding the IMDG Code and ICAO Technical Instructions

February 16, 2017: Amendments Included in 58th Edition of IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations

The 58th edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations includes numerous amendments that were made by both the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel and the IATA Dangerous Goods Board.
Some of the important changes include new shipping classifications, training and instruction requirements, changes regarding packing instructions and performance testing, and several changes to markings and labeling.

Complete List of Amendments

February 1, 2017: WHMIS 2015 — New Hazardous Products Regulations Requirements for Canada

Canada has made some changes to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to align more closely with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
While the changes won’t officially be mandatory until June 1, 2017, suppliers are able to begin following the new requirements for hazardous products that are sold, distributed, or imported into Canada now.
Some of the important changes being made to WHMIS include more comprehensive hazard classification criteria that will now include indications on the severity of the hazards, additional hazard classes, physical hazard criteria that will now be more consistent with TDG regulations, standardized language, and standardized SDS format. In addition, employers must have an education and training in place for their employees.

WHMIS 2015

January 19, 2017: FAST Act Requirements for Real-Time Train Consist Information by Rail

PHMSA is seeking public comments concerning certain aspects of the FAST Act. Specifically, PHMSA is requesting comments regarding baseline changes, affected entities, and cost & benefits related to fusion centers that collect information from railroads and disperse the information during an emergency. Interested parties may submit comments until April 19, 2017.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0015 (HM–263)