[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 72 (Monday, April 14, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20006-20008]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-7829]



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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 171, 173, 174 and 179

[Docket No. FRA-2006-25169]
RIN 2130-AB69


Hazardous Materials: Improving the Safety of Railroad Tank Car 
Transportation of Hazardous Materials

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 
DOT.

ACTION: Notice of public meetings.

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SUMMARY: On April 1, 2008, PHMSA, in consultation with the Federal 
Railroad Administration (FRA), published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM) proposing revisions to the Federal Hazardous 
Materials Regulations to improve the crashworthiness of railroad tank 
cars designed to transport poison inhalation hazard (PIH) materials. 
Specifically, the NPRM proposes enhanced tank car performance standards 
for head and shell impacts; operational restrictions for trains hauling 
tank cars containing PIH materials; interim operational restrictions 
for trains hauling tank cars containing PIH materials, but not meeting 
the enhanced performance standards; and an allowance to increase the 
gross weight of tank cars that meet the enhanced tank-head and shell 
puncture-resistance requirements. This notice announces that PHMSA and 
FRA will hold a series of public meetings (May 14, 15, 28, and 29, 2008 
in Washington, DC) related to the NPRM. Information on the scope, 
topics, dates, and locations of these public meetings is provided in 
this notice.

DATES: Public meetings: May 14, 15, 28, and 29, 2008, starting at 9 
a.m., in Washington, DC. Further information on the agenda and topics 
to be discussed at each meeting is provided in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below.
    Written Comments: In accordance with the timeframe established by 
the NPRM, comments to this docket must be received no later than May 
29, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Public meetings: The meetings will be held at the Washington 
Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle, NW., Washington, DC 20005.
    Oral Presentations: Any person wishing to present an oral statement 
at any of the public meetings should notify Lucinda Henriksen, by e-
mail or telephone, at least four business days before the date of the 
public meeting at which the person wishes to speak. For information on 
facilities or services for persons with disabilities or to request 
special assistance at the meetings, contact Ms. Henriksen as soon as 
possible.
    Written Comments: We invite interested parties who are unable to 
attend the meetings, or who otherwise desire to submit written comments 
or data to submit any relevant information, data, or comments to the 
docket of this proceeding (FRA-2006-25169) by any of the following 
methods:
     Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Operations Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 
20590.
     Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W12-140, 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal Holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lucinda Henriksen, Office of Chief 
Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration (Lucinda.Henriksen@dot.gov or 
(202) 493-1345), or Bill Schoonover, Office of Safety Assurance and 
Compliance, Federal Railroad Administration (William.Schoonover@dot.gov 
or (202) 493-6229).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 1, 2008, PHMSA, in consultation 
with FRA, published an NPRM proposing revisions to the Federal 
Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to improve 
the crashworthiness of railroad tank cars designed to transport PIH 
materials. As explained in more detail in the NPRM, DOT's tank car 
research has shown that the rupture of tank cars and loss of lading are 
principally associated with the car-to-car impacts that occur as a 
result of derailments and train-to-train collisions. Conditions during 
an accident can be of such force that a coupler of one car impacts the 
head or the shell of a tank car. With sufficient speed, such impacts 
can lead to rupture and loss of lading. When a tank car is transporting 
PIH materials, the consequences of that loss of lading can be 
catastrophic. Based on the information currently available, DOT 
believes that a significant opportunity exists to enhance the safety of 
hazardous materials transportation, and in direct response to the 
Congressional directive of 49 U.S.C. 20155, in the NPRM we propose 
revisions to the HMR that would improve the accident survivability of 
railroad tank cars used to transport PIH materials. Specifically, in 
the NPRM we propose to require:
     A maximum speed limit of 50 mph for all railroad tank cars 
used to transport PIH materials;
     A maximum speed limit of 30 mph in non-signaled (i.e., 
dark) territory for all railroad tank cars transporting PIH materials, 
unless the material is transported in a tank car meeting the enhanced 
tank-head and shell puncture-resistance systems performance standards 
proposed;
     As an alternative to the maximum speed limit of 30 mph in 
dark territory, submission for FRA approval of a complete risk 
assessment and risk mitigation strategy establishing that operating 
conditions over the subject track provide at least an equivalent level 
of safety as that provided by signaled track;
     Railroad tank cars used to transport PIH materials have a 
shell puncture-resistance system capable of withstanding impact at 25 
mph and a tank-head puncture-resistance system capable of withstanding 
impact at 30 mph;
     The expedited replacement of tank cars used for the 
transportation of PIH materials manufactured before 1989 with non-
normalized steel head or shell construction; and
     An allowance to increase the gross weight on rail for tank 
cars designed to meet the proposed enhanced tank-head and shell 
puncture-resistance systems performance standards.
    The public meetings will be held on the dates specified in the 
DATES section of this document and at the location specified in the 
ADDRESSES section. Although all interested parties are invited to 
participate in any of the public meetings, to ensure adequate time is 
allotted to the diverse issues involved in the proposal, DOT plans to 
limit the scope of each proceeding as outlined below.
    May 14 and 15, 2008 Public Meetings: The May 14 and 15, 2008 
meetings will focus on the NPRM as it relates to the transportation by 
rail tank car of chlorine and anhydrous ammonia, the two PIH materials 
that constitute almost 80% of the total rail tank car PIH shipments 
each year. Specifically, we will focus on issues related to the 
transportation of chlorine on May 14th and issues related to the 
transportation of anhydrous ammonia on May 15th.
    May 28, 2008 Public Meeting: The May 28, 2008 meeting will include 
two distinct segments. The morning session will focus on the NPRM as it 
relates to the transportation by railroad tank car of PIH materials 
other than chlorine and

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anhydrous ammonia (e.g., ethylene oxide, anhydrous hydrogen fluoride, 
sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, etc.). The afternoon session of the 
May 28th meeting will address railroad-specific issues related to the 
NPRM (e.g., the operational restrictions proposed, role of the Tank Car 
Committee, impact of heavier tank cars on railroad infrastructure, 
etc.). Accordingly, anyone wishing to comment on the proposed rule as 
it relates to railroad operations, infrastructure, and any other 
railroad-specific issues, should attend the afternoon session on May 
28, 2008.
    May 29, 2008 Public Meeting: The May 29, 2008 meeting is intended 
to provide an opportunity for all interested parties to present general 
comments related to the NPRM and/or any relevant concluding remarks.
    Although we welcome any comments, information or data relevant to 
the NPRM as it relates to the transportation of PIH materials by 
railroad tank car, as noted in the NPRM and accompanying documents, we 
specifically request comment on the following issues and questions:
     Regarding the proposed performance standards for enhanced 
tank-head and shell protection, are there alternative strategies for 
enhancing the accident survivability of tank cars that may be as 
effective as, or more effective than, the proposed standards? Please 
include appropriate data and information demonstrating the 
effectiveness of such alternatives.
     Regarding the proposed eight-year implementation period 
for tank cars to be brought into compliance with the enhanced 
performance standards proposed, we request comment as to the 
feasibility and costs of this implementation schedule, as well as 
suggestions for any alternatives. We are particularly interested in 
data and information concerning current tank car manufacturing capacity 
and whether capacity limitations will affect the proposed 
implementation period.
     If the proposed rule is adopted, will it be necessary to 
maintain the requirement of 49 CFR 173.31(e)(2) that tank cars used to 
transport PIH materials be equipped with metal jackets?
     Regarding the proposed speed restriction of 50 mph for all 
tank cars transporting PIH materials:
    [dec221] To what extent are tank cars containing PIH materials 
currently transported in accordance with the speed restrictions in 
AAR's Circular OT-55-I for ``key trains''?
    [dec221] To the extent that tank cars containing PIH materials are 
not currently transported in ``key trains,'' but would be as a result 
of the proposed speed restriction (assuming carriers would marshal PIH 
cars into key trains to avoid the speed restriction on other trains), 
to what extent, if any, would this ``marshalling'' cause a delay in the 
delivery of PIH materials (or other hazardous or non-hazardous 
materials) in the train? What would be the cost of the delay?
    [dec221] Are there alternative approaches to the speed restrictions 
proposed that would reduce the consequences of a train derailment or 
accident involving PIH materials? If so, please provide supporting data 
demonstrating the effectiveness of the alternative approaches.
     Regarding the proposed speed restriction of 30 mph for 
tank cars not meeting the enhanced performance standards, but used to 
transport PIH materials through unsignaled territory, are there 
additional approaches to limit any burdens associated with this speed 
limitation (e.g., should exceptions be made to the speed restriction 
based on population densities and/or land use patterns of the area 
abutting the track)?
     Regarding the proposal to allow an increase to 286,000 
pounds in the gross weight of tank cars:
    [dec221] To what extent has track infrastructure already been 
modified to accommodate these heavier cars and what was the cost 
associated with such upgrades?
    [dec221] What additional infrastructure modifications would be 
required to accommodate the heavier cars?
    [dec221] Would the number of PIH shipments along certain rail lines 
be expected to increase because existing infrastructure could not 
accommodate heavier cars?
    As noted in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Assessment (IRFA) 
published in the NPRM (73 FR 17818, 17852 (Apr. 1, 2008)) we recognize 
that the proposals in the NPRM may impact certain small entities. 
However, at this time, we do not have enough information to determine 
whether the proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, we encourage small 
entities potentially impacted by this proposal, particularly small 
agricultural operations which utilize anhydrous ammonia, to review the 
NPRM and accompanying Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) and provide any 
relevant comments, data, or information related to the potential 
economic impact to small entities that would result from adoption of 
the proposals in the NPRM. As noted in the IRFA, we specifically 
request comment on the following issues and questions:
     How many small shippers would be impacted by 
implementation of the proposed rule and what is the extent of such 
impact?
     How many governmental jurisdictions that meet the Small 
Business Administration's (SBA) definition of small entity own water 
treatment systems that utilize chlorine in their processing? What would 
be the expected impact of this proposed rule on such entities? Of small 
government jurisdictions currently utilizing chlorine in their water 
treatment systems, how many entities could feasibly substitute a non-
dangerous or less lethal material (e.g., bleach) for chlorine?
     How many agricultural operations that meet the SBA 
definition of small entity utilize anhydrous ammonia in their 
operations? What would be the expected impact of this proposed rule on 
such entities? Of small agricultural operations currently utilizing 
anhydrous ammonia in their operations, how many entities could feasibly 
substitute less dangerous materials (e.g., urea, urea ammonium nitrate, 
or ammonium nitrate) for anhydrous ammonia?
     How many entities meeting the SBA definition of small 
entity own tank cars that would be subject to this rule? What would be 
the expected impact of this proposed rule on such entities?
    We also specifically request comment on the estimates of costs and 
benefits of implementing the proposed rule as detailed in the RIA, as 
well as the underlying assumptions noted in the RIA.
    PHMSA and FRA encourage all interested persons to participate in 
these proceedings. We encourage participants wishing to make oral 
statements to plan on attending the entire meeting for which they are 
scheduled, since DOT may not be able to accommodate competing demands 
to appear at specific times. We also encourage participants to focus 
their testimony at each meeting on the particular topics for that 
proceeding as outlined above.

Documents

    A copy of the April 1, 2008 NPRM, the Regulatory Impact Analysis 
prepared in support of the NPRM, and any comments addressed to this 
docket are available through the DOT's docket system Web site at http:/
/www.regulations.gov and/or Room W12-140 on the Plaza Level of the U.S. 
Department of Transportation Headquarters Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Ave., SE., Washington, DC between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.


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    Issued in Washington, DC, on April 8, 2008, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR part 106.
Edward T. Mazzullo,
Acting Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety.
[FR Doc. E8-7829 Filed 4-11-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-60-P