PHMSA Expands New Flammable Liquid Rail Tank Car Standards with Final Rule

Posted on 8/12/2016 by Roger Marks

On August 10, 2016, US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced a new Final Rule to expand on the requirements for rail cars that transport flammable liquids.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, was passed in 2015 and mandated a number of updates to the Hazardous Materials Regulations, specifically with respect to hazardous materials shipped by rail. In response to a rash of train derailments in the US and Canada involving tank cars transporting crude oil, Congress authorized US DOT to create new regulations and operating restrictions for trains that carry crude oil in certain amounts.  

The forthcoming Final Rule:
  • Expands the requirements for the use of enhanced tank cars for shipping all flammable liquids (regardless of the length of the train)
  • Requires all new tank cars to be equipped with a thermal protection blanket
  • Lays out retrofit requirements for older tank cars
  • Includes an accelerated phaseout schedule for older DOT-111 specification tank cars that transport highly flammable, unrefined petroleum products (i.e., crude oil)
PHMSA announced on its website that the Final Rule has been sent for publication to the Federal Register. It should be expected in the next one to two weeks.

This rulemaking is an expansion of regulations developed back in May 2015, when PHMSA finalized new safety standards, design requirements, and operating restrictions for trains that transport flammable liquids.

Other FAST Act Hazmat Changes

Earlier this week, US DOT revised the comprehensive oil spill response plans requirements for railroads that transport “High Hazard Flammable Trains,” or HHFTs—defined in the May 2015 Final Rule as a train that carries more than 20 cars of a Class 3 flammable liquid in a continuous block or that carries 36 or more cars loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid across the entire train.
See a full list of other FAST Act initiatives here: Hazmat Items in the 5-year, $305B FAST Act Transportation Bill.

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Rail car to transport hazmat flammable liquids

Tags: crude oil, hazardous materials, hazmat rail shipping

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