October 22, 2020: Man, Oh, Man! Those Manways!

Let’s take a look at several hazmat incidents involving railcars that were reported to the DOT on Form 5800.1 for the past year. As you read them, ask yourself, “What is the common denominator between these incidents?”

Incident #1: A tank car had approximately one gallon of product escaping from the manway cover which was not secure and had one of six manway bolts laying down. The same car had a misaligned and damaged nozzle gasket. All product was contained and adhered to the top of the cars with no release to the ground.

Resolution #1: Contractors cleaned the residue off the cars, replaced the damaged discs and manway nozzle gasket, and secured all fittings.


Incident #2: An odor was reported near a railcar. The A and B end liquid enduction line valves were in the open position with vapors escaping past the plug. 

Resolution #2: The valves were closed stopping the release and the plugs were inspected and re-secured.


Incident #3: A loaded tank car of UN3257 Elevated Temperature Liquid N.O.S. (Petroleum Distillates) was leaking from the top of a tank car. the manway was improperly secured with six of eight securement bolts in the down position.

Resolution #3: The tank car was isolated. The manway was properly secured, and the exterior of the tank car was washed to remove all hazardous material residue.


Incident #4: Asphalt leaked from the top of the car. The manway lid was partially open about a half an inch. All the swing bolts were in place and tight. The old seal was removed because its number was illegible since it was covered in Asphalt.  The reason the lid did not close all the way was because it was stuck on the safety collars of the swing bolts.

Resolution #4: The lid gasket was replaced. The safety collars on the bolts were adjusted, the lid was closed, and the bolts tightened.  A new seal was also installed and then the car sent over to the car shop tracks for cleaning before it was released.


Incident #5: A loaded tank car of Liquefied Petroleum Gas was leaking from the protective housing area. The liquid line valve was open, and the secondary securement plug was installed, but not tool tight.

Resolution #5: The issue was identified, and corrective actions were communicated to the shipper. The liquid line valve was closed, and the secondary plug was tightened. The leak was secured, and the car was released to transportation.


There were several other incidents involving manways. Most commonly, the gaskets were improperly installed or had deteriorated. Securement bolts were often in a down position.

The AAR Non-accidental Release Program (NAR) captures data from US and Canadian NARs, maintains a computerized database, and works with industry to address the causes of these incidents. Check it out at https://www.aar.org/nar/.


To avoid these types of incidents, follow safety protocol, pay strict attention to proper maintenance, develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) for loading rail cars and train your employees to be diligent about following the SOP. Even when the problem occurs because of equipment failure, it is usually precipitated by human error.


The AskRail mobile app gives emergency responders immediately access to information about what is in a specific rail car and how to respond to it.


STARS can develop standard operating procedures for loading tank cars that are tailored to your site’s activities and hazardous materials. We can develop and present a customized training program for your employees. And we can create easy-to-use checklists to ensure compliance with loading procedures. Contact us to start a conversation!

Email: info@starshazmat.com
Local: (352) 200-5017
Toll Free: (844) 88 – STARS

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