In an effort to improve the response readiness for oil spills and ameliorate the effects of rail incidents that involve petroleum oil, PHMSA and FRA are proposing regulations for Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFTs). Under the new rule, railroads would be required to share information with state and tribal emergency response commissions. New testing methods for initial boiling point for flammable liquids would be included in hazardous materials regulations.
If approved, the new regulations would require some HHFTs to have comprehensive plans rather than the basic plans currently being used. Operators will be required to be prepared to respond to any incident involving either a worst-case discharge or the largest amount of oil that could be reasonably expected to be discharged should an incident occur.
In addition, railroads will be required to submit a monthly notification or certificate of no change to both state and tribal emergency response commissions, and relevant emergency responders for HHFTs. The information required in the monthly notification includes a reasonable estimate of the number of HHFTs expected to travel through each county in the state every week, the routes the trains are using, descriptions of the materials being shipped, all applicable emergency response information as required by the regulations, contact information for someone at the railroad, tribal and state emergency response commissions, and any relevant emergency responders that are related to the railroad’s transportation of affected trains. Oil trains will be required to provide contact information for qualified individuals and descriptions of response zones to the state and tribal emergency response commissions or appropriate state delegated entities.