Regulatory Update – DOT Proposes to Incorporate Special Permits into the Regulations
On August 18, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to incorporate several DOT special permits pertaining to rail transportation into the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). The permits establish an alternative qualification program for tank cars; allow shipping papers for rail transportation to be transmitted by electronic data interchange (EDI) or by telephone; allow DOT Specification 110A500W multi-unit tank car tanks to have straight threads, instead of taper threads, in the clean out and/or inspection port openings; allow certain DOT Specification 105J500W tank cars containing chlorine to use alternative start-to-discharge pressure requirements; allow DOT Specification 105J300W tank cars containing certain flammable liquids to have pressure relief devices that meet alternative pressure relief requirements; allow certain DOT and Association of American Railroads specification tank cars with stainless steel identification plates to have their specification and other required information stamped on the identification plate instead of the tank car head; allow liquefied anhydrous ammonia gas to be measured by a metering device when loaded into a tank car as an alternative to being measured by weight; revise § 179.13(b) to require rail tank cars that contain poisonous-by-inhalation (PIH) materials and exceed 263,000 pounds gross weight but not 286,000 pounds be approved by the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety before they may be used; and discontinue the AAR 600 program of the AAR’s Specification for Tank Cars, entitled “Specifications for the Acceptability of Tank Containers,” in § 174.63(c)(2) concerning the FRA’s approval of bulk packagings in container-on-flatcar (COFC) and trailer-on flatcar (TOFC) service because PHMSA previously adopted standards for portable tanks that meet or exceed these requirements. This is the latest in a series of widely used or longstanding Special Permits with established safety records that DOT is proposing for incorporation into the HMR. Comments are due on the proposal by October 17, 2011. For a copy, go to www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-18/pdf/2011-20863.pdf.