U.S. DOT unveils Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Safe Rail Transportation of Flammable Materials

On July 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a comprehensive Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to improve the safe transportation of large quantities of flammable materials by rail.  The proposed rule includes new requirements for transport in “high-hazard flammable trains”, meaning trains comprised of 20 or more carloads of a Class 3 flammable liquid, which are commonly referred to as unit trains.

The new requirements would impact several aspects of rail transportation including: (1) tank car standards, (2) speed restrictions, (3) braking systems, (3) classification of mined gas and liquid,     (4) rail routing, and (5) notifications to state emergency responders. This rule impacts railroad operators, shippers of flammable liquids including crude oil and ethanol, and tank car manufacturers and lessors.

The RSI Committee on Tank Cars has issued a statement regarding the NPRM.

In addition, on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, Tom Simpson, President of the Railway Supply Institute participated in a “listening session” along with Jack Girard, President of the American Petroleum Institute and Charlie Drevna, President of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Railroads.  The “listening session” asked candid questions of each industry representative in a closed meeting (no press) to get their opinion on the NPRM.