Thursday, April 26, 2018

PHMSA Announces HAZMAT Safety Research Meeting – 05-16/17-18

Yesterday the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration published a meeting notice in the Federal Register (83 FR 18126) for a public Research and Development Forum that will be held May 16 and 17, 2018, in Washington, DC. The meeting will review recently completed projects, provide updates on on-going investigations and solicit public input on possible future activities.

The notice comments that the PHMSA Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) is particularly interested in the research gaps associated with energetic materials characterization and transport, safe transport of energy products, safe containment and transportation of compressed gasses, safe packaging and transportation of charge storage devices, and others. As part of this focus OHMS intends to address the safety gaps recently identified in a 2017 cooperative research report completed by the National Academy of Sciences titled “Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases in a Changing U.S. Energy Landscape”.

Those gaps are identified in the ‘Recommendations’ section of the report. They include recommendations that PHMSA should:

• Consult with industry on developments impacting energy liquids and gas transportation and report annually on steps that are being taken to monitor and assess the risk implications of such developments (pg 118);
• Evaluate the utility of existing incident- and traffic-reporting data for the purpose of identifying and assessing public safety and environmental risks associated with transporting energy liquids and gases, determine whether new and improved incident- and traffic-reporting systems are needed (pg 118):
• Encourage pipeline, barge, and rail carriers to make greater use of quantitative risk analysis tools to inform decisions about the routing of energy liquids and gases and about priorities for maintenance and integrity management of the equipment and infrastructure used (pg 119);
Regularly and systematically assess the risk-reducing effects of the HHFT rule, perhaps starting with a review of the crash and thermal performance of the new DOT-117 tank car designs (pg 119);
• Seek to model the full array of factors that can give rise to and affect the severity of flammable liquids train crashes (pg 119); and
Make a concerted effort to ensure that federal emergency preparedness grants are being used to meet the planning, training, and resource needs of communities that are facing new and unfamiliar risks as a result of the changes that have occurred in the routing and volume of energy liquids and gas shipments (pg 120);

The registration page indicates that there will be a small-group discussion breakout on the second day of the meeting. The groups have been identified as:

• Risk management and communication (electronic hazard communication, GHS and PHMSA HM communications, and emergency response);
• Emerging technologies and risk mitigation (energy products classification, energy products packaging, and batteries and fuel cells);
• Packaging integrity (bulk packaging and non-bulk packaging); and
• Technical analysis of risk (energetic materials and compressed gases)

The meeting will include provisions for attending via teleconference and on-line participation. Details on those processes will become available at some future date on the PHMSA Research and Development Branch web site.

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