PHMSA strengthens rule for flammable liquids and rail tank cars
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has announced a final rule amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations to codify certain requirements of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST Act) related to the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail.
In May 2015, DOT announced a final rule that included a new, enhanced tank car standard and an aggressive, risk-based retrofitting schedule for older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol, In addition, the rule required trains transporting large volumes of flammable liquids to use a new braking standard; employ new operational protocols such as routing requirements and speed restrictions; share information with local government agencies; and to provide new sampling and testing requirements that will improve classification of energy products placed into transport.
The provisions that are codified by the final rule builds on the May 2015 rule and, in accordance with the FAST Act, expands the requirements to use the enhanced tank car for shipping all flammable liquids, regardless of the length of the train. It also requires that all new tank cars be equipped with a thermal protection blanket, and that older tank cars retrofitted to the new design standard be equipped with top fittings protection and a thermal protection blanket,
The FAST Act also mandates a modified phase-out schedule for older DOT Specification 111 tank cars transporting highly flammable liquids that is based on the type of product, When shipping highly flammable, unrefined petroleum products that require a certain level of packaging protection, the Act requires a faster phase out of the older tank cars.
The final rulemaking has been transmitted to the Federal Register for publication. An actual date of publication will be determined by the Federal Register, but a preview of the rulemaking proposal transmitted by PHMSA is available on the agency’s website, For more information on the U.S. DOT’s efforts to improve hazardous materials safety and awareness, including details about the final rule, visit the PHMSA website at www.phmsa.dot.gov.