Thursday, August 23, 2018

PHMSA Sends Oil Spill Response Plan Rule to OMB

Yesterday the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration sent a final rule to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) concerning oil spill response plans for Highly Hazardous Flammable Trains (HHFT). The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for this rule was published in August of 2016.

According to the Unified Agenda abstract for this rulemaking, this final rule will:

• Expand the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans (OSRP) based on thresholds of liquid petroleum oil that apply to an entire train;
• Require railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train operations with State and Tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness in accordance with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST Act); and
Incorporate by reference an initial boiling point test [probably ASTM D7900] for flammable liquids for better consistency with the American National Standards Institute/American Petroleum Institute Recommend Practices 3000, "Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars," First Edition, September 2014.

As I have noted on a number of occasions, this rulemaking will not address the response to fires and explosions that have been such an obvious part of so many crude oil spills over the last five years. The OSRP requirements are derived from the Clean Water Act and deal with oil getting into water ways. Until Congress addresses the issue of responding to oil spill fires, this rulemaking will have little impact on addressing response to crude oil train fires.

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