Late this afternoon the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published an emergency order to Prevent Unintended Hazardous Materials Train Movement. This action is being taken as an interim measure while the accident investigation of the recent derailment, fire and explosions in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada determines the root cause of that fatal accident. The emergency order and a separate Joint FRA/PHMSA safety advisory were published on the FRA web site. I expect that they will be published in the Federal Register some time next week.
According to a press release about the EO all railroad operating in the United States must complete the following listed actions within the next 30 days:
• No train or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials can be left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard or terminal, unless specifically authorized.
• In order to receive authorization to leave a train unattended, railroads must develop and submit to FRA a process for securing unattended trains transporting hazardous materials, including locking the locomotive or otherwise disabling it, and reporting among employees to ensure the correct number of hand brakes are applied.
• Employees who are responsible for securing trains and vehicles transporting such specified hazardous material must communicate with the train dispatchers the number of hand brakes applied, the tonnage and length of the train or vehicle, the grade and terrain features of the track, any relevant weather conditions, and the type of equipment being secured.
• Train dispatchers must record the information provided. The dispatcher or other qualified railroad employee must verify that the securement meets the railroad’s requirements, and they must verify that the securement meets the railroad’s requirements.
• Railroads must implement rules ensuring that any employee involved in securing a train participate in daily job briefings prior to the work being performed.
• Railroads must develop procedures to ensure a qualified railroad employee inspects all equipment that an emergency responder has been on, under or between before the train can be left unattended.
• Railroads must provide this EO to all affected employees.
I’ll have additional details about the EO and Safety Advisory later this weekend.