Thursday, February 28, 2019

PHMSA Publishes Train OSPR Final Rule

Today the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule in the Federal Register (84 FR 6910-6952) on “Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains”. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was published in July 2016. The rulemaking modifies existing requirements for comprehensive oil spill response plans (COSRPs), establishing petroleum oil thresholds that apply to an entire train consist. The rule also requires railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train (HHFT) operations with State and tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness. It also incorporates a new voluntary standard for testing initial boiling point of crude oil; ASTM D7900.

The preamble to the rule makes it clear that the final rule implements the provisions of the NPRM “with minor changes for plain language or clarification in consideration of the comments received to the NPRM”. The preamble provides tables with the summary of the differences between the NPRM and the final rule:

No changes were made to the portion of the rule incorporating the new initial boiling point test method.

The effective date for this rule is April 1st, 2019.


As I have stated before, while I think that the change in threshold requirements for COSRPs is appropriate, it continues to fail to address the planning requirements for addressing the fire and explosion response planning necessary for Highly Hazardous Flammable Trains (HHFT). Unfortunately, neither PHMSA nor the Federal Railroad Administration have been provided authority to require such emergency response planning. This is going to require congressional action.

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