Friday, June 13, 2008

Comments on Rail Security and Safety Rules – 6-06-08

There are currently three rules recently published in the Federal Register dealing with the security and safety of rail transportation of various hazardous chemicals. All three rules are in the comment period. Generally speaking the comments made on each of these rules are posted on the web site. The last review was posted on 6-2-08 (see: "Comments on Rail Security and Safety Rules – 5-30-08").

Due to the number and extent of the comments included in this blog, I will not be including my normal commentary.

PIH Tank Car Rule

Comments are to be submitted by June 16, 2008. There were six comments received by June 6th that are not included in this review due to the length of those comments and the number of other commenters. Those six comments, including a lengthy document from the Chlorine Institute will be reviewed in a separate blog entry. Comments were received from:

Canadian Pacific Railway Company

  • CPR does not believe that the 30 mph speed restriction on un-signaled lines is justified. It will have an adverse impact on all railroad shippers. The analysis justifying that speed appears to be statistically flawed.
  • CPR does not believe that the 50 mph (or 30 mph) speed restriction should apply to essentially empty railcars carrying just residues.
  • CPR believes that the costs estimated for operating PIH trains at the lower 30 mph limit are significantly understated.
  • CPR believes that consolidation of PIH cars into PIH trains to reduce impact of speed restrictions will increase average dwell times for PIH shipments by 4 days; increasing security risks.

CF Industries

  • CF Industries is a major shipper of anhydrous ammonia.
  • CF Industries suggests that it is inappropriate to specify a phase in schedule for a new railcar design until that design is finalized and in production.
  • CF Industries suggests that the two year design period will result in the elimination of some older cars without being able to replace them. This will result in transfer of some shipping to truck hauling.
  • CF Industries notes that the heavier cars being proposed may not be able to service all current suppliers or customers due to infrastructure limitations

Occidental Chemical Corporation

  • OxyChem is a major shipper of chlorine.
  • OxyChem does not agree with the two year design time for the new railcar. They believe that it may take significantly longer.
  • OxyChem suggests that the specification testing protocols should be included in the rule.
  • OxyChem is disappointed that there are not more operational changes mandated in the rule, especially since at least two of the PIH release accidents mentioned in the rule were the result of operational errors on the part of railroads.
  • OxyChem believes that the cost benefit analysis accompanying the rule underestimates the costs of implementation of this rule.
  • OxyChem believes that infrastructure limitations will result in light-loading of the new, heavier cars, resulting in more PIH shipments.

Dangerous Goods Advisory Council

  • DGAC represents both PIH shippers and rail carriers.
  • DGAC suggests that coordination of this rule making and pending DHS/TSA rulemaking on PIH security will prevent the development of conflicting standards for PIH cars.
  • DGAC believes that many chemical facilities and branch lines supporting those facilities may not be able to handle the heavier cars.
  • DGAC believes that lowering the pressure standard from the current design500 psi to 300 psi to save weight will actually decrease the puncture resistance to sharp objects.
  • DGAC believes that a single standard for all PIH materials does not take into account the different risks and shipping conditions for each specific PIH.

ERCO Worldwide

  • ERCO is a producer and shipper of chlorine.
  • ERCO believes that the time frame for the production of the newly designed railcars is unrealistic.
  • ERCO believes that an interim car design is needed during the phase out of non-normalized cars and the actual production of the new car design.

BASF Corporation

  • BASF is a shipper of ethylene oxide
  • BASF believes that a single standard for all PIH materials does not take into account the differing hazards associated with different chemicals.
  • BASF suggests that it may take as long as 10 years to develop, design, manufacture and evaluate a rail car meeting these standards. During that time the entire existing fleet would be removed from service by this rule.

Railway Supply Institute Committee for Tank Cars

  • RSI represents tank car builders and owners of 70% of the nations tank car fleet.
  • RSI believes that there are unanswered technical questions about the proposed performance standard and suggests that the standard may not be economically achievable.
  • RSI believes that DOT has underestimated the costs of designing and producing a car to the proposed standards. Too high a production or operating cost will drive PIH shipments to alternative transportation options.
  • RSI believes that unless the rule adopts the CPC-1178 standard as an interim measure that fleet modernization will stop until the new car development is complete. This will increase current risk levels.
  • RSI believes that the design time required to develop a design to the proposed standard would be 3 to 6 years with an additional two year test program to confirm service life.
  • RSI believes that the proposed impact test standard is unrealistic and not representative of actual collision data.
  • RSI believes that the rule should include a top fitting protection standard if it is to provide adequate protection against PIH release.
  • RSI suggests that potential DHS ballistic protection standards for PIH cars may increase the difficulty in achieving the standards in this rule. The DHS and DOT should work together to achieve a workable standard for both effects.

The Fertilizer Institute

  • The Fertilizer Institute represents manufacturers and shippers of anhydrous ammonia.
  • The Institute is concerned that the railcar replacement provisions in the rule are unrealistic based on probable production timing of new design railcars.
  • The Institute reports that almost 2,000 member shipments of anhydrous ammonia would have to be light loaded to accommodate the heavier rail cars due to infrastructure limitations.
  • The Institute reports that some leasing companies have notified anhydrous ammonia shippers that leases on current cars will not be extended based on this NPRM. Shipments of anhydrous ammonia will have to be switched to truck shipments.
  • The Institute proposes an alternative to the railcar phase out schedule.

Norfolk Southern Railway Company

  • NS does not believe that the data supports the 30 mph speed limit proposed in the rule.
  • NS believes that residue cars should be exempt from the provisions of the rule.

National Association of Chemical Distributors

  • The NACD believes that the proposed 30-mph speed would increase security risks for PIH shipments with no demonstrable increase in safety.
  • The NACD believes that the required retirement time frame specified in the rule would not provide adequate time to obtain new replacement railcars.

Olin Chlor Alkali Products

  • Olin is a manufacturer and shipper of chlorine.
  • Olin suggests that FRA should also pursue increased accident prevention measures to help reduce the probability of PIH releases.
  • Olin believes that the cost analysis understates the fleet replacement costs of this rule.
  • Olin believes that it may take 6 to 10 years to get a railcar meeting these standards into production. During that time frame most of the current fleet would be removed from service by this rule. This would require the wholesale interim use of truck fleets to transport PIH materials.

American Association for Justice

  • The AAJ represents trial lawyers in the United States and Canada.
  • The AAJ believes that the pre-emption statement in the rule is overly restrictive of actions taken in State courts; more restrictive than intended by Congress.

American Chemistry Council

  • ACC member companies produce and ship most of the PIH materials, other than anhydrous ammonia, in the United States.
  • ACC believes that there is a need for an interim PIH railcar rule that will allow for an orderly transition to the level of safety outlined in this rule.
  • ACC believes that TSA should be part of this rule making since they may be developing PIH tank car security standards that may conflict with these safety standards.
  • ACC believes that the process of gathering PIH railcars into a limited number of trains to allow most trains to exceed the speed limits set forth in this regulation conflicts with TSA attempts to limit the time that PIH cars sit idle.
  • ACC believes that the current proposed design for PIH cars is based on data developed for a chlorine shipping railcar. Different PIH materials have a variety of different characteristics that would make this design inappropriate.
  • ACC believes that the design, testing and implementation schedule proposed in the rule is too ambitious.
  • ACC believes that the costs of the proposed regulations have been significantly understated.
  • ACC notes that not all shipper and receiver facilities will be able to handle the heavier cars, resulting in light loading and the associated increase in the number of shipments required.

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

  • DuPont maintains a fleet of railcars for the shipment of a wide variety of PIH chemicals.
  • DuPont notes that the design of a railcar to ship chlorine will not be adequate to ship other PIH chemicals due to their different physical characteristics and safe shipping requirements.
  • DuPont suggests that this rule include upcoming rule makings related to tank car design changes for additional safety and security concerns to insure that the later rules are compatible with the current proposed rule and do not require a a further redesign of the rail cars.
  • DuPont has some concerns about whether it is possible to achieve the design objective outline in the rule within a reasonable time frame.
  • DuPont suggests that an interim, achievable specification be included in the rule to allow for fleet modernization during the eight to ten years that the current design may take to implement.
  • DuPont notes that the lower speed limits will require an expansion of the number of cars in the fleet and will increase the congestion seen at rail yards around the country.
  • DuPont notes that the rule does not address the maintenance issues associated with the new design and their impact on the car’s use in PIH service.

Ethylene Oxide/Ethylene Glycols Panel Ethylene Oxide Safety Task Group

  • The EO STG of the American Chemistry Council is a safety group supporting the Ethylene Oxide manufacturers, users and shippers.
  • The EO STG does not believe that the rail car performance levels specified in the rule are achievable by the means outlined in the rule
  • The EO STG suggests that DOT adopt a retrofit approach to achieve the desired performance levels.
  • The EO STG notes that EO is a Zone D PIH and is more likely to result in a fire than cause a toxic incident in the event of a release.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and United Transportation Union

  • The Unions represent the crews of all Class I and most Class II and III railroads.
  • The Unions believe that the pre-emption statement in the rule is overly restrictive of actions taken in State courts; more restrictive than intended by Congress.
  • The Unions believe that the approval process for alternative remedies for the 30 mph speed limit are inadequate to protect the safety of trains carrying PIH chemicals in older tank cars.

Institute of Makers of Explosives

  • The IME represents the manufacturers of ammonium nitrate explosives, large volume users of anhydrous ammonia. Members lease over 1500 railcars for the shipment of anhydrous ammonia.
  • The IME has concerns about the inadequate transition deadlines in the rule.
  • The IME believes that the TSA, as regulators of transportation security, should be party to this rule making since they are in the process of developing their own rules concerning PIH shipments.
  • The IME believes that the impact analysis accompanying this rule should also include an analysis of the potential move of PIH transportation to other transportation modes as a result of this rule.

CSX Transportation, Inc.

  • CSX is one of the largest transporters of chemical products in America.
  • CSX does not believe that the 30 mph standard will not provide a significant increase in PIH shipment safety.
  • CSX notes that the 30 mph speed limit for PIH trains will have a cascading effect on all trains on the system, increasing shipment times for all customers and increasing PIH dwell times.
  • CSX suggests that the requirements of this rule should not be imposed on ‘residue’ cars in transit back to the shipper.

Union Tank Car Company

  • UTLX suggests that the minimum time to develop a compliant design for a PIH rail car is three years from the time a proven design is available.
  • UTLX suggests that a three year service trial would be required to verify that a newly designed rail car meets all operational requirements.
  • UTLX suggests that the CPC 1187 design be used as an interim standard for construction of new PIH railcars, allowing for continued fleet modernization.
  • UTLX suggests that the pending top fittings protection rule making be included in this rule to allow for a single design/development/testing program.
  • UTLX suggests that the cost/benefit analysis contained in the rule making is based on inaccurate costs and assumptions.

Route Security Analysis Rule

Comments were to be submitted by May 16, 2008. There were no new comments posted since my blog of 5-28-08.

Appeal of Adverse Rail Routing Decisions Rule

Comments are to be submitted by June 16, 2008. No comments have been posted since the proposed rule was published.

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