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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-84-016
Details
Synopsis: ON JULY 30, 1983, VINYL CHLORIDE UNDER PRESSURE ESCAPED FROM A NEWLY LOADED BUT NOT YET SECURED RAILROAD TANK CAR AT THE LOADING FACILITY WITHIN FORMOSA PLASTIC CORPORATION'S (FORMOSA) PLANT AT BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA. THE TANK CAR WAS A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT) SPECIFICATION 105 A 300 W TANK CAR, UTLX 96402, BUILT BY THE UNION TANK CAR (UTC) COMPANY. SOON THEREAFTER, THE RELEASED VINYL CHLORIDE WAS IGNITED AND FORMED A LARGE BILLOWING FIRE. AN ADJACENT TANK CAR CONTAINING VINYL CHLORIDE BECAME DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE FIRE. TANK CAR UTLX 96402 LOST ITS CONTENTS THROUGH ITS LOADING PIPING AT THE TOP OF THE TANK AND WAS DESTROYED BY FIRE FUELED BY THE POOL OF THE ESCAPING VINYL CHLORIDE WHICH FORMED BENEATH IT; THE TORCH-LIKE FIRE THAT EMANATED FROM THE TANK CAR UTLX 96402 IMPINGED UPON THE ADJACENT TANK CAR CAUSING ITS SHELL TO THIN, BULGE, AND RUPTURE NON VIOLENTLY. AS A RESULT OF THIS ACCIDENT, TWO PESONS WERE INJURED AND THE SAFETY OF THE ADJACENT COMMUNITY WAS ENDANGERED. HAD THE SECOND TANK CAR RUPTURED VIOLENTLY, A POTENTIAL FOR CATASTROPHIC LOSSES EXISTED BECAUSE OF THE THREAT POSED TO THE VINYL CHLORIDE MANUFACTURING PLANT, VINYL CHLORIDE STORAGE SPHERES, CHLORINE STORAGE TANKS, NUMEROUS TANK CARS, AND OTHER PLANT FACILITIES.
Recommendation: TO THE CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION AND THE AMERICAN SHORT LINE RAILROAD ASSOCIATION: Immediately advise its members of the hazardous materials accident at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 30, 1983, and of the subsequent findings regarding improperly positioned excess flow valve seats, and alert them to rely upon tank car excess flow valves for protection against an undesired outward flow of hazardous materials from tank cars during loading, unloading, maintenance, or repair operations. (Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA83AZ006
Accident Reports: Vinyl Chloride Monomer Release from a Railroad Tank Car and Fire, Formosa Plastics Corporation Plant
Report #: RAR-85-08
Accident Date: 7/30/1983
Issue Date: 3/15/1984
Date Closed: 6/11/1984
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Chemical Manufacturers Association (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat,Tank Car Loading and Unloading

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
Date: 10/24/2011
Response: Notation 8351: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), "Positive Train Control Systems," that was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2011. The NPRM proposes amendments to FRA regulations implementing a provision of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that mandates that certain passenger and freight railroads implement positive train control (PTC) systems by December 31, 2015. Consistent with statute, the final rule became effective March 16, 2010, and established new regulations requiring each Class I railroad over which (1) poisonous-by-inhalation (PIH) or toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels to implement a PTC system by December 31, 2015. The FRA is seeking further comments on its proposal to amend the regulations by eliminating two qualifying tests-the alternate route analysis and the residual risk analysis-that are required to avoid PTC system implementation on track segments that do not transport PIH and TIH hazardous materials traffic and are not used for intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation as of December 31, 2015. The NTSB has continued to follow the recent litigation between the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the FRA regarding PTC implementation. The NTSB also is aware of Executive Order 13563, issued on January 18, 2011, which requires federal agencies to review significant regulations to determine if they are outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome. Further, Vice Chairman Hart testified before the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, to affirm our strong support of the significant safety benefits that can be accomplished with implementation of PTC systems on our nation's railroads. The NTSB offers the following comments on this section of the NPRM: Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 236.1005, "Requirements for Positive Train Control Systems" When the final rule addressing PTC implementation was issued in 2010, the FRA requested additional comments on specific issues. In our previously submitted comments, the NTSB acknowledged the fact that traffic patterns will likely change to some degree before December 31, 2015. These changes in traffic patterns will necessitate appropriately justified adjustments to the track segments on which PTC must be installed. The NTSB believes that the final rule as written provides enough flexibility to railroads, either at the time of initial filing of their PTC Implementation Plans (which has already passed) or through a request for amendment, to subsequently address changes in traffic patterns. In addition to requiring PTC system implementation on railroad lines over which (1) PIH or TIH hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 also requires PTC systems to be implemented on other tracks as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may prescribe by regulation or order. The NTSB believes the track segments that will be selected for PTC implementation will be reviewed and considered by the FRA in accordance with its discretionary authority. But the NTSB is concerned that by eliminating the requirements for an alternate route analysis and a residual risk analysis as currently required by the final rule in order for railroads to avoid PTC system implementation, the FRA's ability to identify other high-risk corridors will be hampered. The NTSB strongly encourages the FRA to maintain the railroads' current PTC Implementation Plans so that the traveling public, railroad employees, and communities near rail lines receive the maximum safety benefits. The NTSB will continue to monitor and offer safety recommendations as a result of its accident investigations to improve the effectiveness of PTC standards. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NPRM. Should you require any additional information or clarification, please contact us.

From: NTSB
To: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
Date: 6/12/1984
Response: The American Short Line Railroad Association's circulation of Safety Recommendation R-84-16 to each of its members fulfills the intent of this recommendation. The Safety Board appreciates this effort, and we have placed R-84-16 in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
To: NTSB
Date: 3/30/1984
Response: ASLRA LETTER: SAFETY RECOMMENDATION R-84-016 DATED MARCH 19, 1984, WAS CIRCULATED TO EACH MEMBER OF OUR ASSOCIATION ON MARCH 26, 1984.

From: NTSB
To: Chemical Manufacturers Association
Date: 9/5/1984
Response: The Safety Board commends the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) for highlighting the subject of the Board's recommendation in the April 1, 1984, CHEMTREC/DISTRIBUTION Newsletter. CMA's effort to bring this information to the attention of the appropriate personnel satisfies the objective of Safety Recommendation R-84-16, which has been placed in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: Chemical Manufacturers Association
To: NTSB
Date: 6/11/1984
Response: CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION LETTER: YOUR SAFETY RECOMMENDATION R-84-16 REGARDING IMPROPERLY POSITIONED EXCESS FLOW VALVES ON CERTAIN RAIL TANK CARS WAS RECEIVED BY CMA ON MARCH 15, 1984. WE HIGHLIGHTED THE SUBJECT IN OUR APRIL 1, 1984 CHEMTREC/DISTRIBUTION NEWSLETTER, PLUS WE ENCLOSED A COPY OF THE NTSB RECOMMENDATION. THIS BROUGHT TH INFORMATION TO THE ATTENTION OF DISTRIBUTION EXECUTIVES, EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERSONNEL AND TRANSPORTATION EQUIPMENT PROFESSIONALS AT ALL CMA MEMBER COMPANIES.