Thursday, June 11, 2015

S 1462 Introduced – Rail Hazmat Transport Safety

Last month Sen. Schumer (D,NY) introduced S 1462, the Eliminating Dangerous Oil Cars and Ensuring Community Safety Act. While the bill is generally targeted at crude oil rail transportation, it would have effects on most hazardous material shipments by railroad.

This bill attempts to take a comprehensive approach to rail hazmat safety. It addresses seven specific areas:

Tank car phase out;
Crude oil volatility;
Hazmat train speed limit;
Track inspections;
PTC requirements;
Oil spill response plans; and
Incident reporting requirements.

Tank Car Phase Out

Section 2 of the bill would add a new §20155 to 49 CFR. It would speed up the replacement of DOT 111 and CPC 1232 railcars over the schedule set in the recent HHFT final rule. The table below shows the proposed phase out schedule for the cars that have not been upgraded to the DOT 117 standards set forth in the HHFT rule:

Non-Jacketed DOT 111 Cars
Jacketed DOT 111 Cars
Non-Jacketed CPC 1232 Cars
Jacketed CPC 1232 Cars

This is one of the areas that will affect all hazmat shipments as it prohibits the shipping of “any hazardous materials” {new §20155(a)} in the un-refitted rail cars.

Crude Oil Volatility

Section 3 would add a new §5111 to 49 USC. It would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a new regulation (within 1 year) to establish a “national maximum vola1tility standard for the transport of crude oil by rail or by barge”. The bill does not suggest the type of measurement system to be used to set that standard.

Hazmat Speed Limit

Section 4 of the bill would establish a maximum speed limit of 40 mph for any train carrying at least 10 railcars containing a hazardous material (hazmat train) where at least one of the cars was an un-upgraded DOT 111 car carrying hazardous materials. The speed limit would apply on any track in a county with a population density of greater than 20 people per square mile.

The same speed limit would apply to hazmat trains two years after this bill is enacted where the train contains an unjacketed CPC 1232 railcar containing a hazardous material.

Track Inspections

Section 5 of the bill would require railroads to conduct additional track inspections on mainlines. This would include 2 additional inspections for internal defects and 4 track geometry inspections.

PTC Requirements

Section 6 would amend the 49 USC 20157 PTC implementation requirements by adding any rail line “over which tank cars carrying crude oil or ethanol travel” {new §20157(i)} to the list of rail lines for which PTC installation is required.

The bill would also remove the 49 USC 20150 DOT reporting requirement that was fulfilled in 1995.

Oil Spill Response Plans

Section 7 of the bill would add a new §20904 to 49 USC that adds requirements for oil spill response plans. It reinforces the existing requirement for rail carriers to have a comprehensive oil spill plan in accordance with 49 CFR Part 130. It would require the Secretary to revise §130.2 “to require comprehensive response plans to effectively provide for the carrier’s ability to respond to worst-case discharges resulting from accidents involving unit trains or blocks of tank cars transporting oil and petroleum products" {new §20904((b)}.

Incident Reporting Requirements

Section 8 would amend 49 USC 20901 by adding two new paragraphs detailing requirements for establishing a close call reporting program and the prompt reporting of derailments.

The bill would require each railroad to “establish a system through which employees may anonymously report circumstances or incidents that endanger the safety of railroad operations” {new §20901(c)}. No details are provided about what such a system would entail.

It would also establish derailment reporting requirements for high hazard flammable trains (not the current HHFT) that consist of 10 or more railcars loaded with flammable liquids. It would require an immediate report to the FRA and the local county emergency management contact. It would then require a detailed report within 90 minutes to the FRA.

The immediate report would include:

Detailed train information;
Waybill information; and
MSDS for each hazardous material on the train.

The subsequent report would include:

Product testing data for flammable liquid characterization;
Analysis results for pre-shipment samples from each derailed tank car;
Name of flammable liquids involved in derailment and “the name and location of the company extracting the material” {new §20901(d)(3)(C)};
The company that conducted initial testing and analysis;
The company that transported the material “from the well head to the loading facility or terminal” {new §20901(d)(3)(E)};
The loading terminal operator;
The railroads that handled the loaded railcar; and
The timeline of changes between railroads.

Moving Forward

While Schumer and his five co-sponsors are all senior influential Democrats, none of them are on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, so it is highly unlikely that that Committee will take up this bill. This is especially true since there would be vigorous opposition by the Class I railroads and most hazmat rail shippers.

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