By BETSY MORRIS
Federal safety regulators said they will consider new safety
regulations for all rail tank cars, old and new, and gave the
public 60 days to comment on several controversial
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
(PHMSA) said it will consider regulations that tank cars be
equipped with better puncture resistance systems and top
fittings designed to make them safer in crashes. Tank cars
often carry hazardous materials and have been cited as a safety
problem in several serious crashes by the National
Transportation Safety Board.
Safety regulators are investigating the tank cars used in the
oil-train crash that killed 47 people and devastated the
Canadian town of Lac-Megantic this summer.
The proposals are part of an Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking that is the first step in the rulemaking process,
PHMSA said. The agency said its proposals reflect input from
various stakeholders that use, haul or own rail tank cars. The
proposed changes also reflect recommendations from the NTSB and
from petitioners, among them the Village of Barrington, Ill.,
that wants the agency to require safety improvements.
The agency will give the public 60 days to comment on its
proposals and other regulations that apply to hazardous
Most of the recommendations are based on petitions from
industries -- asking for safety changes to protect their
interests. Taken together, they show how controversial tank-car
safety has become despite repeated warnings by the National
Transportation Safety Board and very specific recommendations
from that agency.
A change that might benefit one industry, for instance, will be
costly to another. NTSB recommendations are included in the set
of proposals to be considered in the pipeline agency's
The railroad industry began applying its own safety changes
to newly-manufactured tank cars two years ago, but did not ask
that older tank cars be retrofitted to comply. Now, the
Association of American Railroads is proposing even more
stringent safety standards for newly-manufactured DOT-111 tank
cars (the most common type) that are going to be used to
transport the most hazardous loads. The Village of Barrington
petitioned that older tank cars be retrofitted to safety
standards as well.
The Compressed Gas Association is asking that regulations be
rewritten to "clearly indicate that the liquid portion of the
gas must not completely fill the tank." It says the rule
permits the transport of carbon dioxide and refrigerated liquid
"in an unsafe condition," according to PHMSA's petition.
The American Petroleum Institute, the Chlorine Institute and
the American Chemistry Council propose, among other things,
delaying certain safety changes for tank cars carrying crude
oil or ethanol, pending further research.
Dow Jones Newswires