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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-01-002
Details
Synopsis: About 12:05 a.m. on 2/18/99, railroad tank car UTLX 643593, which was on the west unloading rack at the Essroc Cement Corporation Cement Plant near Clymers, Indiana, sustained a sudden and catastrophic rupture that propelled the tank car's tank about 750 feet and over multistory storage tanks. There were no injuries or fatalities. Total damages, including property damage and costs from lost production, were estimated at nearly $8.2 million. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of Essroc Cement Corporation (Essroc) and CP Recycling of Indiana management to develop and implement safe procedures for offloading toluene diisocyanate (TDI) matter wastes, resulting in the overpressurization of the tank car from chemical self-reaction and expansion of the TDI matter wastes.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Evaluate, with the assistance of the Research and Special Programs Administration, the Association of American Railroads, and the Railway Progress Institute, the deterioration of pressure relief devices through normal service and then develop inspection criteria to ensure that the pressure relief devices remain functional between regular inspection intervals. Incorporate these inspection criteria into the U.S Dept. of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Clymers, IN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA99MZ004
Accident Reports: ​Rupture of a Railroad Tank Car Containing Hazardous Waste
Report #: HZM-01-01
Accident Date: 2/18/1999
Issue Date: 3/12/2001
Date Closed: 9/16/2019
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat,Tank Car Loading and Unloading

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 9/16/2019
Response: On May 16, 2016, you told us that you had worked with the recommended research partners to evaluate how normal service deteriorates pressure-relief devices. Specifically, you assessed the effects of environmental conditions on start-to-discharge pressure variations in pressure-relief devices. We note that the test data indicated that environmental factors do not degrade pressure relief valve performance. Nonetheless, on June 25, 2012, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA; the successor to the Research and Special Programs Administration), after coordinating with your agency, published a final rule, known as “HM 216B,” incorporating certain special permits into the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs; Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 171–180). The final rule amended 49 CFR section 180.509(k) to require tank car owners to ensure the qualification of tank car service equipment (including pressure-relief valves) at least once every 10 years, and to adjust the inspection and test frequency to ensure that the design level of reliability and safety of the equipment is met. These actions satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation R-01-2, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/23/2018
Response: -From Ronald L. Batory, Administrator: This letter is the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) response to twelve National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations (see list below). Over half of these recommendations are currently classified as "Open - Acceptable Response," and because the FRA has addressed the intent of the recommendations, no further action is necessary. FRA therefore requests that these be classified as "Closed- Acceptable Action." For the remaining five, FRA has evaluated each recommendation relative to current and potential new regulations, including requirements for conducting cost-benefit analysis of each potential measure to address each recommendation, and has concluded FRA cannot reasonably take further action on them. Thus, FRA respectfully asks the NTSB to classify each of them as "Closed." Overall, the twelve Safety Recommendations in question are: • R-01-02 • R-12-21 • R-13-22 • R-14-17 • R-01-17 • R-12-22 • R-13-38 • R-14-44 • R-08-06 • R-12-41 • R-14-16 • R-14-48 In the enclosure, FRA discusses the challenges to implement these recommendations, describes what actions the agency has performed, and explains why FRA cannot proceed further, other than to audit compliance as appropriate. Each recommendation is addressed in the enclosure in the following manner: • NTSB Safety Recommendation Number; • Text of the Safety Recommendation as issued by the NTSB; • Status (e.g., "Open-Acceptable Response"); • FRA's position on the Safety Recommendation (see bolded text in shaded boxes); • A summary of the accident that led the NTSB to issue the recommendation; • A summary of the NTSB and FRA correspondence regarding each recommendation; and • FRA's explanation for why we cannot pursue any further action on the recommendation. To facilitate closure of these recommendations, FRA met with the NTSB on March 1, 2018, to expound on our reasoning and answer questions. This enclosure only includes those recommendations for which we believe we came to an understanding. If FRA can provide further information or assistance, please contact Mr. Robert C. Lauby, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer. Please note that Federal agencies like FRA are required to follow the direction of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 for rulemaking, which require quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. Executive Order 12866 specifically states that: Each agency shall assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. To meet the requirements of these Executive Orders, for each proposed and final regulation issued, FRA performs a regulatory analysis to: 1. Establish whether Federal regulation is necessary and justified to achieve a social goal; and 2. Clarify how to design regulations in the most efficient, least burdensome, and most cost effective manner. While issuing regulations to implement many of these NTSB recommendations could improve railroad safety in the specific railroad accident or incident from which each arose, regulatory action to implement these recommendations would result in financial and safety costs that far exceed the societal benefits of improved safety or accident avoidance. Based on the associated cost-benefit analysis, implementing regulations that are required by some of these recommendations would not meet the intent of the Executive Orders listed above, which is inconsistent with the Administration's regulatory policy. Where applicable, FRA has calculated the anticipated costs and benefits of each recommendation and included that information with each detailed response. Please also note, in the 2016 Federal Railroad Administration Report to Congress on Actions Taken to Implement Unmet Statutory Mandates and Address Open Recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation's Inspector General Regarding Railroad Safety, FRA informed Congress that the agency would be taking no further action on these twelve recommendations. Current Status: Open-Acceptable Response FRA believes·NTSB Safety Recommendation R-01-02 is addressed by the inspection criteria and establishment of service intervals for service equipment (to include pressure relief devices) under the updated U.S. Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations at Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 180.509(k). FRA intends to take no further action, and respectfully requests that the NTSB close this recommendation. The NTSB issued Safety Recommendation R-01-02 in response to an accident on February 18, 1999, near Clymers, IN, in which a railroad tank car sustained a sudden and catastrophic rupture that propelled the tank car's tank about 750 feet and over multistory storage tanks. Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities, but total losses were estimated at almost $8.2 million. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of Essroc Cement Corporation and CP Recycling of Indiana management to develop and implement safe procedures for offloading toluene diisocyanate (TDI) matter wastes, resulting in the overpressurization of the tank car from chemical self-reaction and expansion of the TDI matter wastes. FRA's actions to address R-01-02: As mentioned in our May 16, 2016, correspondence to the NTSB regarding this recommendation, an Association of American Railroads (AAR) Tank Car Committee Task Force evaluated the deterioration of performance (i.e. change in the start to discharge pressure) of pressure relief devices (PRDs) between inspections. The committee concluded that the deviation of start-to-discharge pressure (STDP) can be attributed to differences in environmental condition/climate of the testing facilities. To verify this assertion, FRA evaluated the effects of environmental conditions (e.g., elevation, temperature, humidity) on the determination of the STDP of PRDs. The testing was completed from October to July 2014, and reviewed with industry experts. FRA concluded that environmental factors had no effect on the mechanical performance of pressure relief devices. In addition, on June 25, 2012, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with FRA, published a final rule, designated as HM-2168, which amended 49 CFR § 180.509(k) to require a service equipment owner to establish inspection and test frequencies appropriate to ensure the design level of reliability and safety of the service equipment, including pressure relief devices (77 Fed. Reg. 3 7961 ). The inspection intervals must be based upon analysis of previous test and inspection results for that service equipment, as well as service conditions such as loading properties, and loading and unloading procedures. Having concluded that environmental factors do not degrade the performance of PRDs, and having worked with PHMSA to publish a final rule that addresses qualification of PRDs, FRA believes it has met the intent of the recommendation. We respectfully ask that the NTSB reclassify Safety Recommendation R-01-02 as, "Closed-Acceptable Action."

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/16/2016
Response: -From Sarah E. Feinberg, Administrator: This letter is to update you on the status of the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) responses to certain National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations (R-01-02 R-04-07 R-05-17 R-07-02 R-08-12 R-14-02 R-14-16 and R-14-17) issued to the FRA. In the enclosure, FRA responds to these Safety Recommendations and explains the actions it has taken in response to them. FRA's actions, once implemented, will satisfy the intent of these open NTSB recommendations and FRA will keep the NTSB informed of their completion. In accordance with the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) recommendation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), together with research partners, evaluated the deterioration of pressure relief devices caused through normal service. Specifically, FRA conducted tests to evaluate the effects of environmental conditions on the start-to-discharge pressure (STDP) variations in pressure relief devices (specifically, pressure relief valves (PRV)). FRA developed the project based on an Association of American Railroads' (AAR) Task Force's concerns that environmental factors could result in variations of up to 15 percent in the actual pressure at which discharge occurs compared to the nominal STDP. The environmental parameters that the Task Force assumed to be important were the ambient temperature, ambient relative humidity, and barometric pressure. The test data indicates that environmental factors do not degrade the performance of PRVs. Nonetheless, on June 25, 2012, the successor to the Research and Special Programs Administration (the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)), in coordination with FRA, published a final rule, known as "HM-216B," which incorporated certain special permits into the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 171-180)). One special permit allowed for the establishment of alternative tank car qualification programs. Accordingly, the final rule amended the requirements in 49 CFR Part 180, Subpart F, Qualification and Maintenance of Tank Cars. In particular, the final rule amended 49 CFR Section 180.509(k) to require tank car owners to ensure the qualification1 of tank car service equipment (including pressure relief valves) at least once every 10 years and adjust the inspection and test frequency to ensure the design level of reliability and safety of the equipment is met. The results of FRA's research, together with the new requirements of 49 CFR § 180.509(k), satisfy the NTSB's recommendation and FRA does not intend to take any further action in response to this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 3/17/2015
Response: We issued three companion recommendations to R-01-2: R-01-3 to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, R-01-4 to the AAR, and R-01-5 to RPI, all of which have been classified “Closed—Acceptable Action” (R-01-5, on August 19, 2010; R-01-4, on June 16, 2011; and R-01-3, on January 11, 2013). We are disappointed that almost 14 years have passed since this recommendation was issued without the FRA’s completing action to satisfy it. Nevertheless, we are encouraged to learn that you recently completed the second phase of testing and were planning to complete the third phase this winter. We note that you plan then to review the test data with industry representatives, including the AAR and RPI, to determine the effects of environmental factors on the mechanical performance of pressure relief devices. We further note that you intend to use the conclusions to evaluate the adequacy of regulatory requirements regarding inspection intervals relative to mechanical performance reductions over time, as a result of environmental factors experienced in transportation. Please expedite these evaluations to complete the recommended actions. Pending further progress as scheduled, Safety Recommendation R-01-2 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/10/2014
Response: -From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) initiated a project to evaluate the effects of environmental conditions on the determination of the start-to-discharge pressure of pressure relief valves. The project was developed based on the findings of an Association of American Railroads (AAR) task force that concluded environmental factors can result in variations of the performance of relief valves by up to 15 psig. A set of valves with start-to-discharge pressures of 75 psig, 165 psig, and 280.5 psig are being tested in various environments to simulate atmospheric extremes, which are encountered during transportation by rail. The first phase of the test was completed in October 2013, in Houston, TX. The second phase of testing was completed in July 2014, in Sayre, P A. The third stage of testing is scheduled to take place during the winter of 2014-2015 in Regina Saskatchewan, Canada. Once completed, the test data will be reviewed with industry representatives, including the AAR and Railway Progress Institute (RPI), to determine the effects of environmental factors on the mechanical performance of pressure relief devices. The conclusions will be used to evaluate the adequacy of regulatory requirements regarding inspection intervals relative to mechanical performance reductions over time, as a result of environmental factors experienced in transportation.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 12/1/2011
Response: CC# 201100449 was closed administratively; no response was written or mailed.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/12/2011
Response: -From Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation: NTSB Classification and Actions Taken by FRA: Open – Acceptable Response. Regardless of the regulated commodity transported in a tank car, conditions may exist that result in deterioration of an in-service, pressure relief valve. There is not a way to determine the existence or extent of deterioration without disassembling the valve for visual inspection. It is FRA’s expectation that at the time of qualification all valves are removed from the tank car, disassembled, inspected and reassembled prior to reapplication to the tank car. In 2009-2010, FRA performed research to determine the effect of increasing the acceptance tolerance of relief valve performance at the time of retest. The research was performed using Analysis of Fire Effects on Tank Cars (AFFTAC) software, which simulates the behavior of specific tank car designs in pool or torch fire environments. A paper on this research has been circulated among industry experts and is under final editing and review. Based on the results and methodologies of this research, FRA and PHMSA will evaluate development of in-service testing criteria for relief valves. Another option under evaluation is to decrease the periodic inspection interval itself, while allowing alternative inspection intervals for specific tank cars based on a tank car owner’s demonstration of equivalent safety. Actions Needed to Be Taken by FRA: Evaluate research results and work with PHMSA to issue regulations as necessary.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 1/10/2011
Response: The NTSB received a letter from the AAR dated May 17, 2010, and signed by Mr. Robert C. VanderClute, Senior Vice President, Safety and Operations, indicating that, after 1,787 inspections, the AAR's new pressure relief valve inspection report and accompanying instructions have been incorporated into Appendix U of the 2007 edition of the AAR Manual of Standard and Recommended Practices - Specifications for Tank Cars, M-I002. Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous materials regulations incorporate by reference the 2000 edition of M-I002. The FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration need to amend the DOT hazardous materials regulations to incorporate the 2007 edition of the AAR manual. Pending completion of this effort, Safety Recommendation R-01-2 is classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. The NTSB points out that this recommendation was issued almost 10 years ago; accordingly, we would appreciate receiving a timeline of the FRA's plans for amending the regulations to fully implement it.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/17/2009
Response: CC# 2090704 - From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: An AAR Task Force collected more than 5,000 inspection reports on pressure relief devices. After the AAR Tank Car Committee completes its review of the data and shares its findings with the Department, PHMSA and FRA plan to consider regulatory changes, as appropriate. The FRA respectfully requests NTSB continue to classify this Safety Recommendation as "Open-Acceptable Response," until such time as FRA is able to implement appropriate regulatory changes into DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/31/2007
Response: MC2070395: - From Stacey L. Gerard, Assistant Administrator/ Chief Safety Officer: AAR established a task force to review and evaluate inspection reports on pressure relief devices. PHMSA will consider regulatory changes once the tank car committee completes its review of the data. In April 2005, language was adopted in the AAR Manual for root cause analysis by the valve manufacturer when cracked pressure relief valve stems or springs are found. The AAR task force has data on over 5,000 pressure relief valve inspections and expects to make recommendations to the AAR Tank Car Committee later this year. We will work with FRA to expedite completion of the AAR analysis and facilitate a decision on regulatory revisions.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/14/2006
Response: In its 4/14/2006 report to Congress, "National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG): Open Safety Recommendations on Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety," the DOT wrote: PHMSA, FRA, AAR, RPI and Transport Canada established a Task Force to study issues related to rail tank car failure. The task force collected approximately 1,800 inspection reports on Devices (PRDs) in hazmat service including anhydrous ammonia and liquefied petroleum gases. Language has been adopted in the AAR Manual commending review of wmmodity service history and valve repair history when cracked pressure relief valve stems or springs are found. PHMSA will consider rule changes once review of the task force is completed.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/28/2005
Response: In its 2/28/2005 report to Congress, "Open Statutory Mandates Regarding Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety," the DOT wrote: RSPA, FRA, AAR, RPI, and Transport Canada are gathering data to provide a basis for revisions to the hazardous materials regulations.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 2/14/2003
Response: The Safety Board appreciates the progress report on the FRA's and other agencies' activities in this area. In that regard, we note that the task force formed in April 2001 has met on several occasions to establish a data collection system based on reliability principles. Your letter indicates that the information collected will be used to develop reliability-based inspection cycles for pressure relief devices and that task force activities will provide a basis for future revisions to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Hazardous Materials Regulations. As progress is made in this area, we would appreciate another update. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation R-01-2 remains classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/4/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/11/2002 4:09:51 PM MC# 2020860 - From Allan Rutter, Administrator: In September 1998, RSPA, in cooperation with the FRA, AAR, and the Railway Progress Institute, published an exemption to the tank car maintenance regulations to which affected car owners have subscribed. This exemption (DOT-E 12095) requires, among other things, that owners of service equipment set inspection intervals appropriate for the failure rate and mode of failure to ensure continued reliability. In addition, in April 2001, during a meeting with representatives of all agencies involved, a task force was formed to develop a protocol for determining and recording the condition of pressure relief valves as they are removed from cars. Since April 2001, the task force has met on several occasions to establish a data collection scheme based on reliability principles. The information collected will be used to develop reliability-based inspection cycles for pressure relief devices. Experience gained under the exemption and through the task force activities will provide a basis for future revisions to the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Based upon FRA's work, I ask that you maintain safety recommendations R-89-48, R-01-1 and R-01-2 in "Open--Acceptable Response" status. I will continue to update you as work progresses on these recommendations. I appreciate your recommendations to improve our Nation's transportation system and look forward to working with you on other safety issues.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 8/1/2001
Response: The FRA has indicated that, at a meeting of the AAR Tank Car Committee on April 25, 2001, a task force was appointed to address the Safety Board’s recommendation; specifically, to develop a method to gather data to support future changes to pressure relief device test and inspection protocol. Task force members represent the Railway Progress Institute, the Association of American Railroads, the FRA, RSPA, Transport Canada, and a valve manufacturer. The FRA has indicated that it will advise the Safety Board as the Task Force work progresses. Pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendation R-01-2 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/24/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 05/30/2001 5:12:34 PM MC# 2010441 - From George A. Gavalla, Acting Deputy Administrator: The FRA also agrees with this recommendation by the Board and had been taking action to address the issue. On August 7,2000, RSPA issued exemption DOT-E 12095, to authorize an alternative tank car qualification program to that prescribed in 49 CFR Part 180, Subpart F. Developed by FRA, in cooperation with industry, this program permits the owner to establish different tank car operating procedures or test intervals based on the results of a damage-tolerance evaluation or service reliability assessment. The exemption requires that tank car owners (those entities identified through the reporting marks) collect and analyze the service equipment inspection and test results for any given lading and, based on the analysis, adjust the inspection and test frequency to ensure that the design level of reliability and safety of the equipment is met. As of this letter, more than 75 companies hold party status to this exemption. Additionally, on April 25, 2001, the FRA, RSPA, Transport Canada, Railway Progress Institute, and the Association of American Railroads-member companies formed a government/industry task force to study the issues surrounding the Clymers, Indiana, tank car failure and develop a method to gather data to support future changes to pressure relief device test and inspection protocol. Again, we will keep you informed as our work progresses.