[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 18 (Friday, January 27, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 4271]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-1861]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration

49 CFR Part 179

[HM-233A]


Special Permit Marking Removal

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Removal of obsolete Special Permit markings.

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SUMMARY: On January 25, 2011, FRA published a Federal Register document 
stating that markings on tank cars related to certain gross weight on 
rail (GRL) Special Permits that had been incorporated into the 
hazardous materials regulations (HMR) by a Pipeline and Hazardous 
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) rulemaking were required to be 
removed or obliterated by January 25, 2012, or at each subject tank 
car's first shopping event, whichever occurred first. This document 
relieves tank car owners from that previously stated deadline and 
extends the time for removal of the markings until the date of each 
subject tank car's next required qualification.

DATES: January 27, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Alexy, Acting Staff Director, 
Hazardous Materials Division, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Mailstop 
25, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-6245.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Historically, the HMR, at 49 CFR 179.13, limited rail tank cars 
transporting hazardous materials to a GRL limitation of 263,000 pounds. 
Certain tank cars were able to operate in excess of that GRL limitation 
if permitted to do so via a Special Permit issued by PHMSA. However, on 
May 14, 2010, PHMSA published a final rule amending the HMR to 
incorporate provisions contained in several widely used or longstanding 
Special Permits that had an established safety record. 75 FR 27205. The 
final rule amended the HMR to allow, upon the approval of FRA, certain 
rail tank cars transporting hazardous materials to exceed the GRL 
limitation of 263,000 pounds without the need for a Special Permit. On 
January 25, 2011, FRA published a Federal Register notice providing 
such approval for certain tank cars. 76 FR 4250. In that notice, FRA 
stated that all markings on tank cars subject to the GRL Special 
Permits that had been incorporated into the HMR by the final rule and 
approved by FRA were required to be removed or obliterated by January 
25, 2012, or at the car's first shopping event, whichever date occurred 
first.\1\
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    \1\ The rail tank cars subject to the notice which were required 
to have such markings removed were cars previously operating under 
PHMSA Special Permits 11241, 11654,11803, 12423, 12561,12613, 12768, 
12903, 13856, 13936, 14004, 14038, 14207, 14398, 14505, and 14734.
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    As background, the requirement to mark Special Permit packagings is 
provided for in the HMR at 49 CFR 172.302(c). That section requires 
that a tank car operating under a Special Permit must have the permit 
number marked on the car (unless this requirement was waived under the 
terms of a Special Permit). These markings are typically applied to 
tank cars at the time of their qualification. Certain tank cars 
exceeding the GRL limitation of 263,000 pounds were previously required 
to operate under a Special Permit. Those tank cars were required to be 
marked with the appropriate Special Permit number. However, upon the 
PHMSA final rule incorporating the applicable GRL Special Permits into 
the HMR (and FRA's subsequent approval notice) those Special Permits 
and their corresponding Special Permit number markings on the subject 
tank cars became obsolete.
    Since FRA's publication of the notice, FRA has received a number of 
requests to extend the deadline for removal of the Special Permit 
markings on tank cars subject to that notice. Such requests were based 
on the fact that owners of large fleets of tank cars would have to 
remove such cars from service in order to send them to an appropriate 
tank car facility or a loading/unloading facility to have the markings 
removed. Such a procedure could potentially be both costly to industry 
and inefficient. The requesters also pointed out that loading/unloading 
facilities may not be configured to allow for safe access to the 
location of the existing markings. Finally, personnel at loading/
unloading facilities may not have the proper equipment or training to 
remove or obliterate the appropriate markings.
    FRA recognizes the logistical and cost concerns regarding the 
ability of the railroad industry to comply with the pending January 25, 
2012, deadline to remove these now obsolete GRL Special Permit 
markings. FRA also recognizes that markings are typically applied to 
tank cars at the time of qualification, and that tank car facilities 
performing such qualification inspections are equipped to safely access 
all areas of the tank car and properly remove and/or apply required 
markings. Also, the obsolete GRL Special Permit markings remaining on 
the tank cars subject to the FRA notice do not represent a safety or 
environmental risk. There is no risk as these cars were previously 
permitted to operate at a GRL of greater than 263,000 pounds via 
Special Permit, and the now obsolete markings merely reflected such. 
The PHMSA final rule incorporated the applicable Special Permits into 
the HMR, which alleviated the need for a Special Permit.
    Based on the above discussion, the absence of any safety risk, and 
in order to avoid annual requests for the extension of the deadline 
listed in FRA's January 25, 2011, Federal Register notice, FRA has 
decided to extend the deadline for the removal of the obsolete Special 
Permit markings to the date of each subject tank car's next required 
qualification pursuant to 49 CFR Part 180.

II. Extension of Deadline To Remove Obsolete PHMSA Special Permit 
Markings From Tank Cars

    Each rail tank car subject to FRA's January 25, 2011, Federal 
Register notice (76 FR 4250) may continue in transportation with the 
obsolete GRL Special Permit markings present until the date of each 
car's next required qualification pursuant to 49 CFR Part 180. If a 
subject tank car continues in transportation after the date of its next 
required qualification without such marking being removed, FRA reserves 
the right to take appropriate enforcement action.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2012.
Robert C. Lauby,
Acting Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety 
Officer.
[FR Doc. 2012-1861 Filed 1-26-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P