Sunday, April 5, 2015

HHFT ICR Follow-up

On Friday I closed out my post on the OMB’s publication of the Flammable Train ICR data by saying that:

“Either PHMSA is understating the ICR burden or it does not intend for Class I railroads (who are responsible for the bulk of the miles of crude oil transportation) to conduct the routing analysis that will be required by this new regulation. I hope (and expect) that it is the former.”

It has been brought to my attention that the probable reason that PHMSA did not list Class I railroads in their ICR burden calculations is that those railroads are already doing those calculations on an annual basis under 49 CFR 172.820. While that is true, it is only true for those lines that are carrying the specific hazardous materials listed in that section (for example toxic inhalation hazard chemicals). Many of the same rail line segments will be used for highly hazardous flammable trains (HHFT), but there will undoubtedly be rail line segments that will be used by HHFT that are not used for shipping the other chemicals. So there will be an additional ICR burden for those new rail line segments.

Additionally, the hazards associated with TIH chemicals will be different than those associated with flammable trains. For instance there is no significant downwind hazard to be considered for burning Class 3 chemicals, but such hazards must be evaluated for TIH chemical releases. This means that the weighing of the various factors to be considered in analyzing for the safest most secure route will be different for different commodities being carried. This means that the route and alternate route analysis will have to be redone for the HHFT rail line segments currently being reported by Class I railroads.

Finally the requirement to evaluate the emergency response capability along the various routes and alternatives will be calculated differently for Class 3 chemicals than for TIH chemicals. A local fire department may, for instance, have foam firefighting equipment appropriate for crude oil, but not have equipment for dealing with a TIH release; or vice versa. Again, the Class I railroads are going to have to do a different sort of analysis for HHFT rail lines.

In short, it looks like PHMSA seriously under estimated the burden this new regulation will have on the affected industry by incorrectly assuming that Class I railroads would have no new burden associated with these new requirements for HHFT. Either that or they are going to give Class I railroad a pass on the route analysis requirements based upon their already having done them under §172.820.

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