Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-95-016
Details
Synopsis: ON 6/6/94, A CONDUCTOR FOR THE NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY DETECTED PRODUCT LEAKING FROM THE BOTTOM OF TANK CAR UTLX 79211 IN THE NORFOLK SOUTHERN HARRY DEBUTTS YARD IN CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE. THE TANK CAR CONTAINED 12,184 GALLONS OF A 75-PERCENT CONCENTRATION OF ARSENIC ACID, WHICH IS CLASSIFIED AS A POISONOUS MATERIAL & ALSO DESIGNATED AS A MARINE POLLUTANT UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAZARDOUS MATERIALS REGULATIONS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORPORATION: REVISE NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S DEFINITION OF A MAJOR LEAK TO INCORPORATE GUIDANCE ABOUT FACTORS SUCH AS THE LOCATION OF THE LEAK ON THE TANK CAR, ITS ACCESSIBILITY, WHETHER THE LEAK CAN BE READILY STOPPED, & THE POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE ENVIRONMENT OR TO LONG-TERM PUBLIC HEALTH, INCLUDING CONTAMINATION OF WATER SUPPLIES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Chattanooga, TN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA94SZ011
Accident Reports: ​Tank Car Failure and Release of Arsenic Acid
Report #: HZM-95-01
Accident Date: 6/6/1994
Issue Date: 3/2/1995
Date Closed: 1/25/1996
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Norfolk Southern Corporation (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Norfolk Southern Corporation
Date: 1/25/1996
Response: THE BOARD NOTES THAT NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S REVISED SYSTEMWIDE EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN INCLUDES A REVISED DEFINITION OF MAJOR LEAK & TWO NEW DEFINITIONS FOR MINOR & MEDIUM LEAKS. THESE THREE DEFINITIONS INCORPORATE GUIDANCE REGARDING THE SOURCE OF THE LEAK (VALVE, FITTING, OR STRUCTURAL FAILURE OF THE TANK), WHETHER THE LEAK CAN BE CONTROLLED WITHOUT OUTSIDE RESOURCES, & THE POTENTIAL THREAT TO THE ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC SAFETY. IN ADDITION, NORFOLK SOUTHER HAS DEFINED THREE INCIDENT LEVELS IN THE NEW SYSTEMWIDE PLAN TO INDICATE THE SEVERITY OF A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RELEASE. THE CRITERIA FOR EACH LEVEL ADDRESS THE FACTORS SPECIFIED IN THE RECOMMENDATION. BASED ON THE CATEGORY OF LEAK & INCIDENT LEVEL, THE SYSTEMWIDE & DISIVION EMERGENCY PLANS THEN SPECIFY THE NOTIFICATION & EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES DESIGNATED NORFOLK SOUTHERN OFFICIALS ARE TO FOLLOW. AS A RESULT, THE BOARD BELIEVES NORFOLK SOUTHERN IS NOW BETTER ABLE TO ASSESS THE SEVERITY OF A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RELEASE & TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS. THEREFORE R-95-16 IS CLASSIFIED "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION."

From: Norfolk Southern Corporation
To: NTSB
Date: 10/23/1995
Response: IN THE INTERIM [SINCE 5/18/95] NSR ]NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAIL WAY COMPANY] HAS ALLOCATED SIGNIFICANT RESOURCES DESIGNED TO ADDRESS THE THREE NTSB RECOMMENDATIONS [R-95-15, -16, & -17], & HAS INITIATED A HOST OF OTHER MEASURES TARGETED AT IMPROVEMENT OF RAILWAY SAFETY & RESPONSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. THE EFFORTS HAVE INCLUDED: DEVELOPMENT OF A FULLY REVISED, COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM-WIDE EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN ("EAP") FOR HAZARDOUS INCIDENTS. DEVELOPMENT OF FULLY REVISED, COMPREHENSIVE DIVISION (& YARD) SPECIFIC EAPS FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENTS. PURCHASE OF A TRANS ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS, INC. (TESI) RAILROAD SPILL CONTAINMENT PAN (FITS WITHIN RAILS) FOR INSTALLATIOIN AS A TEST AT THE DEBUTTS YARD. TABLE-TOP EXERCISE & FULL-SCALE DRILL WITH CHATTANOOGA FIRE & EMERGENCY RESPOSNE PERSONNEL IN JUNE 1995. TO DATE IN 1995, MORE THAN 21 OTHER HAZMAT TRAINING PROGRAMS WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, TOTALING OVER 1,000 ATTENDEES LOGGING 2.,781 MAN-HOURS OF TRAINING. REGARDING R-95-16: NSR HAS INCLUDED A REVISED DEFINITION OF "MAJOR LEAKS" IN ITS EAP. NOTE NSR HAS DEFINED MINIMUM, MEDIUM, & MAJOR LEAKS & HAS ESTAABLISHED GUIDELINES FOR THREE INCIDENT LEVELS (I, II, & III).

From: Norfolk Southern Corporation
To: NTSB
Date: 8/15/1995
Response: I have been asked to respond to your letter of June 1, 1995 to Mr. David R Goode with respect to the report on the arsenic acid release of June 6, 1994 in Chattanooga. For ease o.f refznce, I am attaching a copy of Norfolk Southern’s response to safety recommendations R95-15 through 17, which were forwarded to the NTSB on May 18, 1995. I assume that a copy of this letter had not made its way to you when you wrote the June 1, 1995 letter to Mr. Goode. As for the factual matters raised in my letter of May 5, 1995, Norfolk Southern Railway Company endeavored in its communications with the NTSB to address those items in the draft report which the railroad believed were in error. Nonetheless, a&x issuance of the final report, we felt compelled to point out continuing errors for the record. Thus, we appreciate your placing my May 5, 1995 letter into the public docket.

From: NTSB
To: Norfolk Southern Corporation
Date: 7/12/1995
Response: THE BOARD NOTES THAT NORFOLK SOUTHERN IS REVISING ITS INCIDENT RESPONSE FLOW CHART TO DISTINGUISH MORE CLEARLY BETWEEN MAJOR & MINOR SPILLS & THAT NEW DEFINITION FOR THE TERM MAJOR LEAK WILL INCORPORATE THE CRITERIA SPECIFIED IN THE RECOMMENDATION. THESE ACTIONS ARE RESPONSIVE TO THE RECOMMENDATION. THE BOARD WOULD APPRECIATE A COPY OF THE REVISED EMERGENCY PLAN THAT INCLUDES THE NEW DEFINITION OF MAJOR LEAK WHEN THE PLAN IS AVAILABLE. PENDING THE INCORPORATION OF THE NEW DEFINITION IN THE EMERGENCY PLAN, R-95-16 HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED "OPEN-ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: Norfolk Southern Corporation
To: NTSB
Date: 5/18/1995
Response: NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILLWAY COMPANY (NSR) SET UP A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENT RESPONSE QUALITY TEAM TO REVIEW ITS RESPONSE & SPILL PLANS. THE QUALITY TEAM IS WORKING REVISE SPILL DEFINITIONS BY GIVING FULL EFFECT TO BOTH THE DOT EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK & THE DOT HAZARDOUS MATERIALS EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN GUIDANCE DOCUMENT FOR RAILROADS. THE DOT GUIDEBOOK INCORPORATED DEFINITIONS OF "SMALL" & "LARGE" SPILLS IN TERMS OF INITIAL ISOLATION & PROTECTIVE DISTANCES. THE DOT HAZARDOUS MATERIALS GUIDE PROVIDES DEFINITIONS OF "MINOR", "MODERATE" & "SEVERE" SPILLS IN TERMS OF INITIAL RISK LEVELS & APPROPRIATE ISLOATION & EVACUATION ACTION DISTANCES. NSR'S FLOW CHART FOR INCIDENT RESPONSE WILL BE REVISED TO DISTINGUISH MORE CLEARLY BETWEEN "MINOR" & "MAJOR" SPILLS. NSR DEFINITION OF A "MAJOR" LEAK WILL INCORPORATE NTSB RECOMMENDATIONS REQUIRING CONSIDERATION OF THE LOCATION OF THE LEAK, ITS ACCESSIBILITY, WHETHER THE LEAK CAN BE READILY STOPPED, & POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE ENVIRONMENT & LONG-TERM PUBLIC HEALTH. ALTHOUGH THESE CONSIDERATION ARE CURRENTLY INCLUDED IN THE PRESCRIBED RESPONSE ACTIONS BY NSR PERSONNEL, THEY WILL BE EVEN MORE CONVENIENTLY & SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFIED IN FUTURE PLANS.

From: Norfolk Southern Corporation
To: NTSB
Date: 2/5/1995
Response: NSR has included a revised definition of "major leaks" in its EAP. Note NSR has defined minor, medium and major leaks and has established guidelines for three (3) incident levels (I, II, and III). We believe NSR has now fully addressed Recommendation R-95-16.