New Federal Rules Proposed for High-Hazard Flammable Trains
July 21, 2016
Two federal agencies are working on new regulations related to so-called “oil trains” that have become more common recently. The goal is to improve oil spill response readiness and mitigate effects of rail incidents involving petroleum oil.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced proposed regulations for Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFTs).
The proposed rule would update and clarify the comprehensive oil spill response plan requirements for certain trains, and would require railroads to share information with state and tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness for potential accidents.
According to the PHMSA announcement, the rule proposes railroads be required to provide monthly notification or certification of no change to state and tribal emergency response commissions and relevant emergency responders for HHFTs, including:
- A reasonable estimate of the number of HHFTs that are expected to travel, per week, through each county within the state.
- The routes over which the affected trains will be transported.
- A description of the materials shipped and applicable emergency response information required by hazardous materials regulations.
- At least one point of contact at the railroad (including name, title, phone number, and address) for the state and tribal emergency response commissions, and relevant emergency responders related to the railroad’s transportation of affected trains.
- For petroleum oil trains subject to the Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plan under 49 CFR part 130, the contact information for the qualified individuals and description of response zones must also be provided to state and tribal emergency response commissions, or other appropriate state-delegated entities.
The announcement further notes that the proposed rulemaking notice has been transmitted to the Federal Register for publication. An actual date of publication will be determined by the Federal Register, but a preview of the rulemaking proposal transmitted by PHMSA is available on the agency’s website at www.phmsa.dot.gov.