Feb. 13 — A trade association representing companies
that manufacture and lease rail tank cars said industry safety design standards
for rail tank cars used to transport crude oil or ethanol should be updated to
require enhanced safety features.
The Railway Supply Institute, in a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on
Feb. 12, said the tank car manufacturing and leasing industry believes newly
ordered tank cars should be jacketed and outfitted with thermal protection and
a full height head shield.
The letter proposed expanding the CPC-1232
tank car standard, a voluntary industry design standard that was adopted for
all cars ordered after Oct. 1, 2011, to require those additional safety
RSI President Thomas Simpson, who wrote the letter on behalf of
the companies that make up RSI's Committee on Tank Cars, outlined several
principles that owners and manufacturers of rail tank cars believe the crude
oil and ethanol industries should adopt. Members of the RSI committee include
American Railcar Industries, GATX Corp. and the Greenbrier Companies.
Foxx and other Transportation Department officials met with representatives
from the freight rail and oil industries in January. Foxx told reporters that
during that meeting, both industries agreed to review the CPC-1232 tank car
The safety of DOT-111 rail tank cars, which are commonly used
to carry crude oil and other hazardous liquids, has been questioned following a
series of derailments, including the July 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic,
Quebec, that resulted in 47 fatalities. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration is working on a rulemaking that would address tank car
design standards for DOT-111 rail tank cars.
A Senate Commerce, Science
and Transportation subcommittee was scheduled to hear testimony from officials
with PHMSA, the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Transportation
Safety Board and the oil and freight rail industries during a Feb. 13 hearing,
but that hearing was postponed due to inclement weather.
The RSI letter included several additional recommended
safety initiatives, including a freeze on the number of older rail tank cars in
crude oil or ethanol service until the DOT issues standards for modifying older
DOT-111 tank cars.
The RSI said the industry should not assign any
additional “legacy cars,” which are not compliant with the CPC-1232 industry
design standard, to crude oil or ethanol service.
Simpson told Bloomberg
BNA Feb. 12 that this would allow older tank cars currently in crude oil or
ethanol service to continue to be used, but any legacy cars that needed to be
replaced would be replaced with a new tank car or a CPC-1232 compliant car.
Additionally, any increase in crude-oil-by-rail shipments would have to be in a
compliant or new car, Simpson said.
The RSI letter also recommended that
tank cars built to the CPC-1232 standard be allowed to remain in unrestricted
service for their full life, with possible modification to pressure relief
valves and bottom outlet valve handles based on future federal regulations or
The letter also recommended that nonmodified legacy
tank cars be allowed to continue carrying hazardous liquids assigned to packing
group III. PHMSA assigns hazardous materials to a packing group, which reflects
the degree of danger within certain hazard classes. Packing group III flammable
liquids pose a lower risk than packing group I and II materials.
The RSI urged the DOT to
develop modification requirements for legacy tank cars used to carry packing
group I and packing group II shipments of flammable liquids, with a priority on
modifying cars used to carry crude oil and ethanol.
requested that tank car manufacturers and leasing companies be involved in any
evaluation of whether some types of crude oil require transport in a tank car
class other than the DOT-111 rail tank car.
PHMSA and the Federal
Railroad Administration are conducting a joint initiative to determine the
proper classification of crude oil from the Bakken shale region of the U.S.
That ongoing program, referred to as Operation Classification, led to the Jan.
2 issuance of a safety alert cautioning that Bakken crude oil may be more
flammable than other forms of crude oil.
To contact the reporter on this
story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor
responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
The Feb. 12 letter to
Transportation Secretary Foxx is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jstn-9ganlr.
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