PHMSA issues final rule to strengthen oil train spill preparedness

The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration, issued a final rule requiring railroads to develop and submit comprehensive oil spill response plans covering route segments used by high hazard flammable trains.

Feb 15th, 2019

The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration, issued a final rule requiring railroads to develop and submit comprehensive oil spill response plans covering route segments used by high hazard flammable trains (HHFT).

The rule applies to HHFTs that are transporting crude oil in a block of 20 or more loaded tank cars and trains that have a total of 35 tank cars loaded with crude, PHMSA said on Feb. 14. It takes effect 180 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which the US Department of Transportation agency expects in a few more days.

The rule revises oil spill response plan requirements currently in place to require railroads to establish geographic response zones along various rail routes and assure that both personnel and equipment are staged and prepared to respond if an accident occurs, PHMSA said.

Railroads also will have to identify a qualified individual responsible for each response zone, as well as the organization, personnel, and equipment capable of removing and mitigating a worst-case discharge, it said.

Rail carriers also will be required to provide information about HHFTs to state and tribal emergency response commissions in accordance with the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, PHMSA said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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