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On Friday, March 11, 2016, about 6:20 a.m., a 2011 Peterbilt truck-tractor in combination with a 1962 North Texas Tank Company, specification MC330, 10,500-gallon cargo tank semitrailer loaded with noncorrosive liquefied petroleum gas, operated by River City Propane, was traveling northbound on US Highway 431, a two-lane undivided highway, near Stroud, Alabama. As it entered a right curve near the intersection of County Route 256, it began to encroach on the southbound lane, which was occupied by a 2004 Pontiac sport utility vehicle. The driver of the Pontiac reported that he observed the driver of the Peterbilt make a hard right turn. The cargo tank semitrailer then separated from its truck-tractor, traveled westward into a ditch, and struck a rock. The impact with the rock breached the front head of the cargo tank; as the cargo began to vent, the cargo tank’s entire head became separated, releasing the tank’s contents, which caught fire, and a deflagration occurred. The cargo tank semitrailer continued to travel westward through about 300 yards of forested area before coming to rest. The truck-tractor came to rest on the eastern ditch/embankment area and was destroyed. The Peterbilt driver was severely injured as a result of the crash and fire. Although the investigation determined that the condition of the tank was acceptable and its performance was consistent with its design, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation discovered the following safety issues: loading practices at Enterprise Propane Terminals and Storage, inspection and testing of MC330/MC331 cargo tanks, and certification and training of cargo tank inspectors. The NTSB makes two safety recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, three safety recommendations to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and one safety recommendation to Enterprise Propane Terminals and Storage LLC.
TO THE PIPELINE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Revise Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 180, subpart E, to permit the suspension or revocation of the registrations of highway cargo tank inspectors for failing to meet the requirements of that subchapter.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Stroud, AL, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
PHMSA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that, via a rulemaking currently in progress, you plan to propose regulatory revisions to provide a method for suspending or revoking the registration of noncompliant inspectors and inspection facilities. Pending completion of these efforts and publication of the final rule including the recommended revision, Safety Recommendation H-18-5 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Howard R. Elliott, Administrator: PHMSA concurs. PHMSA acknowledges the need for a more feasible, explicit method for suspending or revoking the Cargo Tank Registration of non-compliant facilities. PHMSA plans to consider a "Revocation for Cause" provision for inclusion in a rulemaking in progress. PHMSA will update the NTSB upon publication of the rulemaking.
-From Howard R. Elliott, Administrator: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) appreciates the NTSB' s concerns expressed in the accident summary report1 regarding the training and qualification of cargo tank inspectors (i.e., "registered inspectors"). PHMSA also thanks the NTSB for the opportunity to discuss the above safety recommendations on February 22, 2018 and for providing clarity and guidance on the intent of each recommendation. As you are aware, we discussed PHMSA's "grandfather provision" in the definition of registered inspector as it relates to H-18-3; the possibility of alternative action to satisfy the intent of H-18-4; and the NTSB's expectation for implementing H-18-5. In partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), PHMSA is developing an action plan to address NTSB' s recommendations, and we look forward to providing you with more details in the near future.
On January 23, 2018, the NTSB adopted its highway accident summary report Commercial Vehicle Overturn Resulting in Cargo Tank Rupture, Propane Release, and Fire, Stroud, Alabama, March 11, 2016, NTSB/HAR-18/01/SUM. The details of this accident investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at http://www.ntsb.gov. Among the Safety Recommendations are three new recommendations issued to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which can be found on page 28 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to email@example.com. If it exceeds 20 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.
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