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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-15-017
Details
Synopsis: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urges the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to take action on the safety recommendations issued in this letter. These recommendations are derived from the NTSB’s examination of damaged tank cars following the February 16, 2015, derailment of a CSX Transportation crude oil unit train in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, as well as a review of data collected from accidents that occurred in Gogama, Ontario, on February 14, 2015; Galena, Illinois, on March 5, 2015; and Gogama, Ontario, on March 7, 2015.Theserecommendationsaddressthe retrofitting of thermal protection systems for Department of Transportation (DOT) specification DOT-111 tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids. Based on the unacceptable performance of bare steel tank cars as evidenced in the four accidents listed above, the NTSB is issuing four safety recommendations to PHMSA.
Recommendation: TO THE PIPELINE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Establish a publicly available reporting mechanism that reports at least annually, progress on retrofitting and replacing tank cars subject to thermal protection system performance standards as recommended in safety recommendation R-15-16. (Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Mount Carbon, WV, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA15FR005
Accident Reports:
Report #: None
Accident Date: 2/16/2015
Issue Date: 4/6/2015
Date Closed: 8/16/2018
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: PHMSA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 8/16/2018
Response: We note that section 7308 of the FAST Act now requires the DOT Secretary to implement a reporting mechanism by which to monitor industrywide progress toward modifying rail tank cars used to transport class 3 flammable liquids by the applicable deadlines established in section 7304. The data collected shall consist of the total number of tank cars modified to meet the DOT 117R specification, the total number of tank cars built to meet the DOT-117 specification, and the total numbers, types, and specifications of tank cars used to transport class 3 flammable liquids that have not been modified. The Act requires the Secretary to report the aggregate results of the DOT tank car data survey to Congress annually. Because the DOT was already tasked with providing information on tank cars used to transport class 3 flammable liquids, you did not create the reporting systems; however, we note that you worked with the AAR to provide the necessary information to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) for its report, and that you will continue to work with the AAR and the BTS to monitor progress. We believe this is an alternative action that satisfies the intent of Safety Recommendation R-15-17, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.

From: PHMSA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/9/2016
Response: -From Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator: In your letter of July 12, 2016, NTSB urged PHMSA to extend the requirement for thermal protection systems to all tank cars in Class 3 flammable liquids service, regardless of the type of train operation. Furthermore, NTSB urged PHMSA to issue thermal protection regulations in accordance with the FAST Act that would require thermal blankets capable of providing protection from pool fires and torch fires consistent with § 179 .18(c) of the HMR. The NTSB also noted, in accordance with Section 7305 of the FAST Act, that each tank car built to meet the DOT Specification 117 (DOT -117) and each non-jacketed tank car modified to meet DOT-117R must be equipped with a thermal blanket with at least V2-inch-thick material. The NTSB further voiced its concern regarding the current pace of the retrofit and replacement of DOT-111 tank cars and urged PHMSA to establish a clear set of intermediate metrics to better evaluate the safety improvement progress. On August 15,2016, PHMSA published a final rule titled, "Hazardous Materials: FAST Act Requirements for Flammable Liquids and Rail Tank Cars," in the Federal Register [81 FR 53 93 5]. The final rule codifies certain mandates and minimum requirements of the FAST Act. Specifically, the final rule codifies the following: (1) a revised phase-out schedule for all ·. DOT -111 tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids broken into categories of unrefined petroleum products (e.g., petroleum crude oil), ethanol, and "other" Class 3 flammable liquids; (2) the mandate that each tank car built to DOT -117 and each non-jacketed tank car retrofitted to DOT -117R be equipped with a thermal protection blanket that is at least ½ inch thick and meets existing thermal protection standards; and (3) the minimum requirements for top fittings protection on tank cars retrofitted to DOT -117R. PHMSA believes the FAST Act and the conforming final rule satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendations R-15-14 through R-15-17. The FAST Act limits PHMSA's ability to withdraw, change, or revise the mandated amendments. While the phase out schedule for DOT -111 tank cars may not be as aggressive as NTSB desires, the deadlines represent the absolute last moment to meet the new standards. We encourage industry to phase out these tank cars ahead of the scheduled deadlines. Section 7308 of the FAST Act further requires the collection and reporting of two data sets related to the retrofit and replacement of tank cars used in the flammable liquid service fleet. The first data set is retrospective in nature and requires DOT to collect information on the number of tank cars modified to meet the DOT -117R; the number of tank cars built to meet the DOT -117; and the number of tank cars used or likely to be used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids that have not been modified. In addition, the FAST Act requires collection of a second data set pertaining to future industry capacity projections. Specifically, DOT is required to conduct a survey of rail tank car facilities to determine statistically-valid estimates of the number of tank cars those facilities expect to process to meet the DOT -117R or DOT -117 demand in a given year. The DOT is working with rail industry and tank car facilities, respectively, to develop reporting mechanisms to monitor progress. AAR has agreed to cooperate and is currently compiling retrospective data to be provided to DOT. In accordance with Section 7308(t) of the FAST Act, DOT will provide to Congress an annual, written report covering both data sets.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 7/12/2016
Response: We are aware that HM-251 does not require complete transparency or full reporting for the retrofitting of all tank cars subject to the HHFT requirements; rather, the rule includes only one milestone date (January 1, 2017) by which tank car owners are required to report to the DOT the number of tank cars they own that have been retrofitted and the number that remain to be retrofitted. Further, this milestone pertains only to the retrofitting of non-jacketed DOT-111s in PG I service, and HM 251 does not specify what DOT will do with the resultant reports or if the data will be made public. We believe that this lack of transparency provides insufficient incentive for fleet owners to retrofit their tank cars early, and we are concerned that some owners may defer retrofitting to the latest possible time, thus risking shop capacity impediments to compliance. Section 7308 of the FAST Act now requires the DOT Secretary to implement a reporting mechanism to monitor industry-wide progress toward modifying rail tank cars used to transport all Class 3 flammable liquids by the applicable deadlines established in section 7304. The data collected shall consist of the total number of tank cars modified to meet the DOT-117R specification, the total number of tank cars built to meet the DOT-117 specification, and the total numbers, types, and specifications of tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids that have not been modified. The Act requires the Secretary to report the aggregate results of the DOT tank car data survey to Congress annually. We note that you intend to collaborate with various stakeholders to develop an additional mechanism to report the progress made in retrofitting or replacing tank car types in flammable liquids service. To this end, you are exploring with the AAR, the FRA, and Transport Canada modification of the industry’s Universal Machine Logic Equipment Register system as an appropriate reporting tool. Although this action may not be completed with the urgency requested, because it could satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation R-15-17, the recommendation is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: PHMSA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/4/2015
Response: -From Timothy P. Butters, Deputy Administrator: This letter responds to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) April 3, 2015, letter urging the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to take action on new Safety Recommendations concerning rail transportation of Class 3 flammable liquids. These new Safety Recommendations, R-15-14 through R-15-17, resulted from the NTSB’s examination of damaged tank cars following the February 16, 2015, derailment of a CSX Transportation crude oil unit train in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, as well as a review of data collected from several other crude oil unit train accidents occurring in the same timeframe. These Safety Recommendations address the retrofit of Specification DOT-111 tank cars with thermal protection systems that are used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids (hereafter referred to as “flammable liquid”). We thank the NTSB for its vigilance on this transportation safety issue and its continued investigative efforts to improve rail transportation safety for crude oil, ethanol, and other flammable liquids. We share your commitment to enhancing the safety of rail transportation, and are pleased to inform you that Secretary Anthony R. Foxx has signed and announced a final rule entitled “Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains” (HM-251). Pending publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, we posted the signed version at our website homepage for public viewing. This rule focuses on prevention, mitigation, and response, to manage and reduce the risk posed by the transportation of flammable liquids by rail tank car. Through tremendous collaborative efforts with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), we established a comprehensive solution designed to reduce the probability and minimize the consequences of an accident. We have adopted risk mitigation requirements that address braking, classification, operating speeds, and routing to reduce the probability of accidents. Finally, we adopted enhanced design and performance standards for rail tank cars in flammable liquid service to minimize the consequence of an accident. The required safety measures and the timeline for phase-out and retrofit of legacy tank cars used in high-hazard flammable train (HHFT)a service will strike a balance between the safety needs of rail transportation of flammable liquids and the economic viability of the rail industry. Upon consideration of shop capacity, the comments received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), and the potential impacts associated with the retrofit schedule, PHMSA recognizes the need to upgrade the rail car fleet, but finds that a targeted phase-out of the DOT-111 tank cars is the most prudent and protective approach. We concur that replacing or retrofitting of “legacy” DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars should follow an “aggressive schedule.” PHMSA used a risk-based data analysis with stakeholder input to develop an implementation timeline that is commensurate with the safety risks introduced by the different tank car types and flammable liquids combinations. We adjusted the retrofit schedule to accommodate varying deadlines, and what we believe will effectively incorporate “intermediate progress milestone[s].” This assures the greatest amount of risk reduction in the shortest amount of time feasible. We target the highest risk combination of tank car types and flammable liquid service (i.e., non-jacketed DOT-111 tank cars in PG I service) first, and impose the shortest implementation period on this segment of the tank car fleet and service by January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, respectively. PHMSA's implementation timeline addresses the risks associated with varying tank car type and the characteristics of the flammable liquids according to its Packing Group (PG) assignment. Regarding tank car types, we have categorized the tank car types as follows: 1) Non-jacketed DOT-111s; 2) Jacketed DOT-111s; 3) Non-jacketed CPC-1232s; and 4) Jacketed CPC-1232s. Under the final rule, both new and existing tank cars used in flammable liquid service as part of an HHFT must be equipped with jackets, thermal protection systems, and upgraded PRDs. New tank cars must be constructed to enhanced design and performance standards starting October 1, 2015. The existing fleet must be retrofitted to include a thermal protection system and jacket according to a risk-based implementation timeline that prioritizes retrofit of higher risk tank car types and higher risk flammable liquids; or be placed out of this service. This timeline is reflected in Table 1 below. Table 1. Timeline for the Retrofit of Affected Tank Cars for Use in U.S. HHFTs Tank Car Type / Service Retrofit Deadline Non Jacketed DOT-111 tank cars in PG I service (January 1, 2017*) January 1, 2018 Jacketed DOT-111 tank cars in PG I service March 1, 2018 Non-Jacketed CPC-1232 tank cars in PG I service April 1, 2020 Non Jacketed DOT-111 tank cars in PG II service May 1, 2023 Jacketed DOT-111 tank cars in PG II service May 1, 2023 Non-Jacketed CPC-1232 tank cars in PG II service July 1, 2023 Jacketed CPC-1232 tank cars in PG I and PG II service** and all remaining tank cars carrying PG III materials in an HHFT (pressure relief valve and valve handles). May 1, 2025 The January 1, 2017, deadline triggers a reporting requirement for those entities that have not retrofitted all of their fleet as required. The report to DOT must include the number of tank cars they own or lease that have been retrofitted, and the number of those that have not yet been retrofitted. Conversely, the lowest risk tank car type (i.e., the jacketed CPC-1232), and tank cars carrying PG III flammable liquid material, will undergo retrofitting in conformance with the least aggressive deadline (May 1, 2025). Other tank cars and flammable liquid services are addressed by intermediate milestones as shown in Table 1. PHMSA and FRA have worked with Transport Canada to harmonize our respective timelines As a result; all tiers except for the first tier, of the retrofit schedule have been harmonized. The year 2025 final deadline signals a total implementation period of 10 years; however, we believe our targeted approach to address the greatest risks posed by rail transport of flammable liquid in a shorter period of time satisfies the intent of Safety Recommendation R-15-16 (see Table 1). Notably, the entire fleet of the highest risk tank car type (i.e., non-jacketed or “legacy” DOT-111s in PG I service) will be removed from service or be retrofitted in less than 5 years and all PG I service with these tank cars in HHFTs will cease in 5 years. Further, we fully expect the majority of tank cars in the last, lowest risk grouping (i.e., jacketed CPC-1232 tank cars and all remaining tank cars carrying PG III materials), will be retrofitted markedly in advance of the 2025 deadline because of existing tank car requalification and maintenance scheduling. Finally, we intend to collaborate with various stakeholders to develop an additional reporting mechanism to report the progress made in retrofitting or replacing tank car types in flammable liquid service used as part of a HHFT. We further note that PHMSA and FRA are collaborating with different stakeholders, including Transport Canada and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), to further address this issue. The industry’s achievement of other important milestones in the implementation timeline should be monitored and evaluated in some form. As a possible avenue for an additional reporting mechanism, at the AAR Tank Car Committee Meeting held in April 2015, Transport Canada, with PHMSA and FRA’s support, requested the AAR modify the rail industry’s Universal Machine Language Equipment Register (UMLER) System to include an appropriate reporting mechanism. Modifying UMLER in such a fashion should yield a variety of important metrics that could then be used to assess and report on the progress made in retrofitting or replacing the population of tank cars subject to the thermal protection system requirements. We will update the NTSB on any future progress with regard to a publicly available reporting mechanism.