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Regulatory Changes for Shipping Toxic-by-Inhalation Hazard Materials by Rail

Date

Thu, Dec 17, 2020 12:00 PM

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By James Rader

Summary:

On Wednesday, November 25, 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule that adopted industry petitions with respect to the rail transportation of toxic-by-inhalation materials (TIH) (HM-219C [85 FR 75680]). Among other things, the final rule prohibits the transportation of a TIH material in a tank car constructed of non-normalized steel after December 31, 2020, and phases out the use of tank cars that do not meet the federal safety standards issued under Docket HM-246 by December 31, 2027. The final rule also changed the last letter in the tank specification from “I” to “W” to remove the reference of the “interim” tank car standard. The final rule also changed the delimiter “J” to “H” to show the enhanced safety features of the car. For example, DOT105J600I to DOT 105H600W (see Docket HM-246, dated January 13, 2009, 74 FR 1770).

 

Which commodities are impacted?

Column 1 names TIH materials and column 2 names the authorized tank car.

Toxic-by-Inhalation Materials

Authorized Tank Car

Acetone cyanohydrin, stabilized

105H500W, 112H500W

Acrolein

105H600W

Allyl Alcohol

105H500W, 112H500W

Anhydrous ammonia, or ammonia solutions > 50 percent ammonia

105H500W, 112H500W

Bromine

105H500W

Chlorine

105H600W

Chloropicrin

105H500W, 112H500W

Chlorosulfonic acid

105H500W, 112H500W

Dimethyl sulfate

105H500W, 112H500W

Dinitrogen tetroxide, inhibited

105H500W

Division 2.3 Zone A materials not specifically identified in this table

105H600W

Division 2.3 Zone B materials not specifically identified in this table

105H600W

Division 2.3 Zone C materials not specifically identified in this table

105H500W

Division 2.3 Zone D materials not specifically identified in this table

105H500W, 112H500W

Ethyl chloroformate

105H500W, 112H500W

Ethylene oxide

105H500W, 112H500W

Hexachlorocyclopentadiene

105H500W, 112H500W

Hydrocyanic acid, aqueous solution or Hydrogen cyanide, aqueous solution with not more than 20% hydrogen cyanide

105H500W, 112H500W

Hydrogen chloride, refrigerated liquid

105H600W, 112H600W

Hydrogen cyanide, stabilized

105H600W

Hydrogen fluoride, anhydrous

105H500W, 112H500W

Hydrogen sulfide

105H600W

Methyl bromide

105H500W

Methyl mercaptan

105H500W

Nitrosyl chloride

105H500W

Phosphorus trichloride

105H500W, 112H500W

Poison (Toxic) inhalation hazard (Classes 3-8), Zone A materials not specifically identified in this table

105H600W

Poison (Toxic) inhalation hazard (Classes 3-8), Zone B materials not specifically identified in this table

105H500W, 112H500W

Sulfur dioxide, liquefied

105H500W

Sulfur trioxide, stabilized

105H500W, 112H500W

Sulfuric acid, fuming

105H500W, 112H500W

Titanium tetrachloride

105H500W, 112H500W


Rule-making Background:

For hazardous materials transported in the United States, the DOT has Congressional authority to prescribe regulations for the safe transportation, including the security of hazardous material in intrastate, interstate and foreign commerce. The Secretary’s regulations apply to: (1) persons that cause hazardous materials to be transported in commerce; (2) persons who transport hazardous materials in commerce; and (3) persons that design, manufacture, fabricate, inspect, mark, maintain, recondition, repair or test a package, container or packaging component that is represented, marked, certified or sold as qualified for use in transporting hazardous material in commerce. For more than a century, the federal regulations have also authorized the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and its predecessors to review tank car applications, set welding and repair requirements, and approve valves and fittings.

Dept of Transportation USA

In addition to the DOT tank car regulations, the AAR sets design standards on railcars and may place operating restrictions on the railcars under its “Interchange Rules.” These rules govern the movement of freight railcars on the general railroad system of transportation. All freight railroads, interchange freight railcar owners and running repair agents must subscribe to the AAR rules.

Acting under its Interchange Rules, on December 18, 2006, the AAR issued Casualty Prevention Circular (CPC) CPC-1178, to enhance the safety of transporting anhydrous ammonia and chlorine (TIH materials) by rail by enhancing the safety features on the railcars to reduce the probability of release of product from a tank car, given a derailment or collision. The circular required that on January 1, 2008, newly ordered tank cars for anhydrous ammonia service must conform to specification DOT 112J500W and for chlorine service specification DOT 105J600W. For both products, railcars must be equipped with full-height ½-inch thick or equivalent head shields and with top-fitting protection to withstand a 9-mph rollover.

On November 2, 2007, the AAR issued CPC-1184, which expanded the AAR design standard for any tank car transporting a TIH material (as noted earlier, the previous standard only applied to tank cars transporting anhydrous ammonia and chlorine). The AAR circular required railcars built on or after January 1, 2008, to meet the new AAR design standard. Existing railcars that conformed to the requirements were considered in compliance. Railcar owners were to provide implementation plans to the AAR by December 31, 2008, with progress reports by March 31 of each year beginning in 2010.

On November 20, 2007, at the request of the FRA Administrator, the AAR issued CPC-1185 postponing January 1, 2008, effective date until March 31, 2008.

On March 31, 2008, the AAR issued CPC-1187 further postponing the effective date until April 30, 2008. Railcar owners were to supply plans to the AAR for approval showing that the owner’s fleet would comply with the new AAR design standard by December 31, 2018.

In response to government and industry efforts, on January 13, 2009, under Docket HM-246, the DOT issued new federal safety regulations for the transportation of TIH materials in railroad tank cars. The HM-246 safety regulation endorsed an “interim design standard,” which required the construction of tank cars built on or after March 16, 2009, to have certain and specific design features. These features included tougher and thicker tank shells and heads and tougher top-fitting protection. The DOT adopted the interim design standard in anticipation that the AAR, FRA and the industry would research and develop a final design having greater accident survivability. An important aspect of the HM-246 safety regulation is “grandfathering” the continued use of tank cars built prior to March 16, 2009, if the AAR had already approved such cars for TIH material service.

The HM-246 safety regulation also placed a 20-year life-limit on newly built tank cars. Based on a petition for rulemaking by the Chlorine Institute (P-1636), on November 7, 2018, DOT published a final rule removing the 20-year life-limit effective on December 7, 2018 (see HM-219A, 83 FR 55792).

After the issuance of the DOT final rule, on April 12, 2010, and in support of the continuation of AAR, FRA and industry research, the AAR issued CPC-1211 placing CPC-1187 in suspension.

In a cooperative industry effort, and to improve transportation safety, on April 27, 2018, the AAR, American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Institute and the Fertilizer Institute signed an agreement to work together to phase-out tank cars that did not conform to the new HM-246 safety regulations by December 31, 2027. The agreement included a requirement to jointly petition DOT to speed up a rulemaking to enact the industry’s phase-out agreement.

Acting on the industry’s petition, DOT issued a final rule under Docket HM-219C, on November 25, 2020, adopting the AAR interchange standard and industry agreement by prohibiting the movement of TIH materials in tank cars constructed of non-normalized steel after December 31, 2020, and the phase-out of tank cars that do not meet the HM-246 federal safety standards by December 31, 2027.

 

Compliance to Standards:

Greenbrier follows rail industry rulemaking proceedings very closely. With a certain degree of uncertainty surrounding the regulatory environment, many outcomes are possible. Our regulatory compliance and asset management team has decades of experience helping fleet owners navigate compliance issues, and our engineering team continues to work with shippers to develop unique railcar designs that aim for improved safety and efficiency.

As the impact of the new tank car TIH rulemaking proceeding becomes clearer, we will continue to update this article. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the design, construction, operation or maintenance of railcars.

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James H. Rader (Jim) has four decades of railroad industry experience that includes service at the Federal Railroad Administration, the Association of American Railroads and two Class I railroads. Currently, Jim serves on the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Rail Energy Technical Advisory Committee, the AAR Tank Car Committee, the Canadian General Standards Board Committee on Tank Cars and is a Board Member of the Railcar Technical Services Association (RTSA). He is also a regular contributor at the FRA Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and staff writer for the Journal of HazMat Transportation. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Strayer University in Business Administration.

In his current role, Jim serves as a leader in the development of regulatory compliance programs for Greenbrier Companies, its subsidiaries and Greenbrier’s customers. Currently, Jim is the Vice President of Regulatory Management Services, which provides services for customers in transportation regulatory compliance, railcar fleet management, quality management systems, railcar reliability and maintenance standards, railroad accident and incident investigations, hazardous material and railcar training, federal claims mitigation and support for rail-related litigation.