The Office of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Investigations investigates accidents involving railroads, pipelines, and the transportation of hazardous materials. The office conducts investigations and issues safety recommendations to federal and state regulatory agencies, industry and safety standards organizations, carriers and pipeline operators, equipment and container manufacturers, producers and shippers of hazardous materials, and emergency response organizations. The office has four divisions: the Railroad Division, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Division, the System Safety Division, and the Report Development Division. Staff are located in Washington, D.C., and various locations throughout the United States.
The Railroad Division has the responsibility for railroad accident investigations involving passenger railroads, freight railroads, and commuter rail transit systems. These accidents typically involve collisions or derailments; some of these accidents lead to the release of hazardous materials.
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Division
The Pipeline staff investigates accidents occurring during the transport of natural gas or other hazardous liquids, such as gasoline or propane, through pipeline systems and accidents in which public safety is threatened by the release of hazardous substances. The division investigates all pipeline accidents in which there is a fatality, substantial property damage, or significant environmental impact.
The Hazardous Materials Division staff investigates accidents in all modes of transportation. The investigation may include analysis of the performance of hazardous materials containers, such as rail tank cars, highway cargo tanks, and smaller non-bulk packaging.
System Safety Division
The System Safety Division reviews regulatory and industry best-practices for system safety management in the regulated transportation mode. The division also reviews the role of individual, workgroup, and organizational factors affecting accident scenarios and maintain effective oversight of emerging regulations, methods, and data related to system safety in the railroad, pipeline, and hazardous materials arenas.
Report Development Division
The division is responsible for drafting and editing investigation reports as well as safety recommendation letters, special investigation reports, and general correspondence.