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May 1, 2015: (FR) DOT Releases the Final Rule on Flammable Liquids by Rail

New Tank Car Rule: DOT117:

Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars Used in HHFTs

  • 9/16” normalized TC 128 Steel (that’s 1/8 thicker than current standards for DOT111)
  • Full height head shields (current is ½ height)
  • Thermal protection and jackets (existing regulations do not require jackets or thermal protection)
  • Top fittings protection (not currently required by regulation but is required by CPC 1232)
  • Bottom Outlet Valve enhanced handle design to prevent opening during derailment

Retrofits & Phase-Outs:

  • Cars not meeting the DOT117 standard being used in ANY Flammable Liquid service must be retrofitted or phased out, including all legacy and CPC 1232 DOT111 and TC111 tank cars. They will be required to meet a “performance standard”
  • There will be retrofit/phase-out schedule which will prioritize the “least safe cars first” starting with crude oil, then ethanol.
  • New tank cars constructed after October 1, 2015 are required to meet enhanced DOT Specification 117 design or performance criteria for use in an HHFT.
  • Existing tank cars must be retrofitted in accordance with the DOT-prescribed retrofit design or performance standard for use in an HHFT.
  • Retrofits must be completed based on a prescriptive retrofit schedule. The retrofit timeline focuses on two risk factors: the packing group, and differing types of DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank car.
  • A retrofit reporting requirement is triggered if consignees owning or leasing tank cars covered under this rulemaking do not meet the initial retrofit milestone.
  • The Canadian schedule is slightly faster (by about 7 months) because of the smaller-sized fleets and previous commitments
  • Tank cars designated for Ethanol services are assigned a slower schedule for retrofit or phase-out.
  • *HHFT: High Hazard Flammable Train: High-hazard flammable trains” (HHFT) which means “a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or 35 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train.

Reduced Operating Speeds:

  • Restrict all HHFTs to 50-mph in all areas.
  • Require HHFTs that contain any tank cars not meeting the enhanced tank car standards required by this rule operate at a 40-mph speed restriction in high-threat urban areas defined the Transportation Security Administration’s regulations at 49 CFR 1580.3.
  • Require HHFTs to have in place a functioning two-way EOT device or a DP braking system.
  • Require any high-hazard flammable unit train (HHFUT)1 transporting at least one PG I flammable liquid be operated with an ECP braking system by January 1, 2021.
  • Require all other HHFUTs be operated with an ECP braking system by May 1, 2023.
  • **HFFUT:  “high-hazard flammable unit train” (HHFUT) means a train comprised of 70 or more loaded tank cars containing Class 3 flammable liquids traveling at greater than 30 mph.

More Accurate Classification of Unrefined Petroleum-Based Products:

  • Document sampling and testing program for all unrefined petroleum-based products, such as crude oil.
  • Certify that programs are in place, document the testing and sampling program outcomes, and make information available to DOT personnel upon request.

Rail routing – Risk Assessment:

  • Railroads operating HHFTs would be required to perform a routing analysis that considers, at a minimum, 27 safety and security factors and select a route based on its findings. These planning requirements are prescribed in 49 CFR § 172.820.

Rail routing – Notification:

  • Ensures that railroads notify State and/or regional fusion centers, and that State, local and tribal officials who contact a railroad to discuss routing decisions are provided appropriate contact information for the railroad in order to request information related to the routing of hazardous materials through their jurisdictions.

For more information, please review the entire Final Rule on Flammable Liquids by Rail, the Summary developed by DOT, and DOTs Press Release.

Please contact us if we can answer any questions for you on this latest rulemaking. (844) 88-STARS or (844) 887-8277;