-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."