January 18, 2017: (ANPRM) (HM-251D) Volatility of Unrefined Petroleum Products and Class 3 Materials

PHMSA is considering making a revision to the HMR that would establish vapor pressure limits on unrefined petroleum based products and Class 3 flammable liquids during transportation and will apply to all modes of transportation.
Interested parties may submit comments until March 20, 2017. PHMSA will be evaluating all comments, potential safety benefits, and costs associated with using vapor pressure thresholds.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0077 (HM–251D)

December 19, 2016: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

Union Pacific Railroad Company submitted an extension request on a currently approved waiver of compliance. The waiver allowed locomotives with increased pilot height to be operated in the lead position over one mile of track. Union Pacific stated it has had no adverse impacts on safety during the previous 9 years it has been operating under the current waiver.
Interested parties may submit comments until February 2, 2017.

Docket Number FRA-2007-28049

October 10, 2016: Hazardous Materials: Proposed Termination of EX Classification Approval EX1987030326

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is proposing to terminate EX classification approval EX1987090926, which was issued to BHT Products for Division 4.1 classification.
PHMSA attempted to contact BHT Products by certified mail in January and May but was unsuccessful both times. The letter requested a copy of lab reports and test data that would support the classification issued under EX1987030326.

Docket No. PHMSA 2016–0094; Notice No. 2016–17

February 18, 2016: FRA Awards Nearly $10 Million to Increase Safety at Railroad Crossings Along Energy Routes

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded almost $10 million in grants through funding from the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) to eight states. The funding will enable them to upgrade and increase the safety of the railroad crossings that are along the energy routes.
Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, stated “These grants will reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings and help modernize our nation’s rail system. Through a combination of these grants, education and enforcement, we can – and will – achieve our goal of preventing accidents and deaths at railroad crossings.”
The second leading cause of railroad related fatalities is collisions that occur at railroad crossings. FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg stated “One of FRA’s top priorities during the last year has been to reverse the uptick in fatalities at railroad crossings because most of these collisions and deaths are preventable. Today’s grants will upgrade the warning systems at critical crossings and close others where crude oil and other energy products are transported.”

FRA Awards Nearly $10 Million to Increase Safety at Railroad Crossings Along Energy Routes

November 20, 2015: Information and Guidance on the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Emergency Window Exits on Railroad Passenger Cars

The Federal Railroad Administration has recently become aware that the window exits on passenger rail cars have not been operating as they should be. When pulled, the emergency handle becomes detached from the window gasket. In some cases the gasket was difficult to remove or just broke into several pieces.
Upon investigation, it became clear that some railroads did not fully understand or were just not following the federal regulations on inspection, testing, and maintenance of the window exits. Railroads are supposed to use the sampling method that conforms with a formalized statistical test method.
FRA does not feel that this issue would have impacted the passenger’s ability to open the window in an emergency.
FRA is publishing this notice in an effort to remind passenger train operators of the existing regulatory requirements on inspecting, testing, and maintenance of the window exits.

Docket Number 2015-29641

October 19, 2015: Notice of Actions on Special Permit Applications

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:

  1. Motor Vehicle
  2. Rail Freight
  3. Cargo Vessel
  4. Cargo Aircraft Only
  5. Passenger Carrying Aircraft

Actions on Special Permit Applications

 

 

October 19, 2015: Notice of Application for Modification of Special Permits

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.

 

Hazardous Materials: Notice of Application for Modification of Special Permit

 

October 19, 2015: List of Delayed Applications

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.

Hazardous Materials: Delayed Applications

 

September 2, 2015: BNSF Submits Petition for Approval of Product Safety Plan

BNSF Railway petitioned the FRA for approval of its Product Safety Plan (PSP) for ElectroBlox Wayside Interface Unit that is designed to meet the requirements listed in the 49 CFR part 236, subpart H, Standards for Processor Based Signal and Train Control System. BNSF Railway has said that the ElectroBlox system reliably executes the functions of an interoperable Positive Train Control wayside component.
A copy of the petition is available for review at www.regulations.gov and at the US DOT’s Docket Operations Facility. While the FRA does not anticipate scheduling a public hearing, interested parties are invited to submit written reviews, data or comments. Please visit the Federal Register to view the complete notice and docket number.

PHMSA Develops Training Material for Incident Preparedness and Response

PHMSA, in cooperation with Transcaer and other industry associations and federal agencies, has developed training material in an effort to assist shippers and carriers put together incident preparedness and response training for all rail incidents that involve hazard class 3 flammable liquids. The goal is to not only learn from past experiences but to also utilize the expertise of public safety agencies, rail carriers, and industry subject matter experts in an effort to assist first responders in safely managing incidents involving hazard class 3 flammable liquids.
All of the training material and other resources are available for free download. The materials include PowerPoint presentations, student workbooks and instructor lesson plans.

Transportation Rail Incident Preparedness & Response

April 23, 2015: (EO) FRA Issues Speed Emergency Order

The Federal Railroad Administration, in the interest of public safety, has issued an Emergency Order that requires all trains that are transporting large quantities of Class 3 flammable liquids while traveling through certain high-threat urban areas (HTUAs) abide by a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 mph. The order was deemed necessary in light of the recent accidents involving trains transporting large quantities of petroleum crude oil and ethanol. The increasing reliance on railroads to transport voluminous quantities of hazardous materials was also a contributing factor in the release of this order, which is effective immediately. Railroads need to complete implementation no later than April 24, 2015.

According to this Emergency Order, an affected train is defined as one that contains:

  1. 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block  — or — 35 or more loaded tank cars of Class 3 flammable liquids
  2. At least 1 DOT Specification 111 tank car  (including those built in accordance with AAR Casualty Prevention Circular 1232) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid

Speed Emergency Order

 

October 28, 2014: Second Meeting Held on Lithium Batteries

The second ICAO International Multidisciplinary Lithium Battery Transport Coordination Meeting was held to discuss additional measures that were needed to mitigate risks related to the transportation of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft. Participants of this meeting reviewed demonstrations on how reactions differed depending on the battery type, manufacturer and chemistry.

The DGP has proposed that the transport of lithium metal batteries in cargo be restricted to cargo aircraft only. The prohibition on the carraige of lithium metal batteries on passenger aircraft only applies to batteries that are shipped by themselves. It does not apply to lithium metal batteries that are packed with equipment or contained in equipment.

As a result of the first and second meetings there have been several changes to how lithium metal batteries are transported. Some of the changes are as follows:

-The ICAO Council has decided to prohibit the carriage of lithium metal batteries on their own as cargo on passenger aircraft

  • An explosion occurred in the two tests to date of lithium ion cells in fire resistant containers. There is a likelihood that the flammable gases that are emitted from venting lithium ion cells can collect and ignite, which could result in an explosion in such containers.

  • Lithium metal button cells with a lithium content that does not exceed 0.3 grams may not present a significant hazard and should have a separate UN classification to facilitate shipments.

  • Results of tests conducted have indicated that Class C cargo compartments provide appreciably better protection against the risks associated with a lithium battery fire than any other types of cargo compartments.

To read more about the results of the first and second meeting please visit the following sites:

IATA

IACO 

October 22, 2014: OSHA Announces Webinar To Discuss Issues Relating To Executive Order 13650 – Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that they will be holding a webinar on November 10, 2014 aimed at updating stakeholders and the public on issues relating to Executive Order 13650 – Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. The webinar will also discuss the progress that federal agencies have made in implementing the Federal Action Plan for improving the safety and security of chemical facilities. There is no cost to register for the webinar. For information on registering for the webinar please visit Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 204