New safety rules for hazmat tank cars
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration have issued final rules to improve the safety for transporting poison inhalation hazard (PIH) materials by rail.
The rules, effective March 16, include mandates to improve safety features and design standards for newly manufactured tank cars. In addition, the agencies have adopted:
' 50 mph speed restrictions for loaded rail tank cars transporting PIH materials.
' Improved top fittings performance standard.
' Allowance to increase the gross weight of tank cars that meet the enhanced standards.
' Industry standard for normalized steel in certain tank cars.
'In the last several years, rail tank cars have been breached in numerous accidents, resulting in large releases of hazardous materials,' the agencies said.
They noted several crashes in specific, including:
' Jan. 18, 2002 derailment of a Canadian Pacific train in Minot, N.D., which resulted in a release of anhydrous ammonia.
' June 28, 2004 collision of trains operated by Union Pacific Railroad Co. and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. in Macdona, Texas, causing the breach of a loaded tank car containing chlorine.
' Jan. 6, 2005 collision between two Norfolk Southern Railway Co. trains in Graniteville, S.C., involving the catastrophic rupture of a loaded chlorine tank car.
'Although none of these accidents was caused by the hazardous materials tank cars, the failure of the tank cars involved led to fatalities, injuries, evacuations, and property and environmental damage,' the agencies said.
Notice of the final rule is available on the Jan. 13 Federal Register.