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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-14-006
Details
Synopsis: On July 5, 2013, at 10:45 p.m. eastern daylight time, MMA freight train MMA-002 was proceeding eastbound on the MMA Sherbrooke Subdivision, en route from Montréal, Quebec, to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The train was 4,700 feet long and weighed more than 10,000 tons. The train was composed of 5 head-end locomotives, a special-purpose caboose equipped to remotely control the locomotives, 1 loaded boxcar used as a buffer car, and 72 US Department of Transportation (DOT) Specification 111 general service tank cars (DOT-111) loaded with petroleum crude oil. The waybills described the product in the tank cars as Petroleum Crude Oil, UN1267, Class 3, Packing Group III. The crude oil originated from a tank truck-to-rail car transloading facility in New Town, North Dakota, and was destined for an oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Canadian Pacific Railway transported the tank cars from New Town to Montréal, where the train was conveyed to the MMA with the same waybill information. About 11:00 p.m., the engineer stopped the train at the designated MMA crew change point at milepost 7.40 near Nantes, Quebec. He left the lead locomotive idling and then departed the area, leaving the train unattended on the mainline track. The track had a descending grade of about 1.2 percent toward the town of Lac-Mégantic. About 11:40 p.m., a nearby resident called the 911 emergency call center to report a fire on the idling locomotive. The local fire department responded, and the MMA dispatched an employee to assist the fire department personnel. About midnight, the responders initiated emergency shutdown procedures on the locomotive and extinguished the fire. The fire department and MMA personnel then departed the location, leaving the train unattended. Shortly before 1:00 a.m. on July 6, 2013, the unattended train started to move, and it gathered speed, rolling uncontrolled for 7.4 miles down the descending grade into Lac-Mégantic. As the train entered the center of Lac-Mégantic, it was moving well over the authorized speed. The boxcar and 63 loaded crude oil tank cars derailed near the center of Lac-Mégantic. The locomotives separated from the train and came to rest about 1/2 mile east of the derailment. At least 60 of the 63 derailed DOT-111 tank cars released about 1.6 million gallons of crude oil. Some of the spilled oil ignited immediately. The fire engulfed the derailed cars and the surrounding area. Forty-seven people died as a result of the fire, and nearby structures were destroyed or extensively damaged. The fire was extinguished by noon on July 7, 2013. About 2,000 people evacuated the surrounding area.
Recommendation: TO THE PIPELINE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Require shippers to sufficiently test and document the physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials to ensure the proper classification, packaging, and record-keeping of products offered in transportation.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Unacceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Lac Megantic, Quebec, OF, Canada
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA13SR006
Accident Reports:
Report #: None
Accident Date: 7/6/2013
Issue Date: 1/23/2014
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: PHMSA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: PHMSA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/9/2016
Response: -From Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator: On July 29, 2016, PHMSA published an NPRM titled, "Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains," in the Federal Register [81 FR 50068]. The NPRM proposes changes that would expand the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans based on thresholds of liquid petroleum oil that apply to an entire train consist. In accordance with the FAST Act, this action proposes to require railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train operations with State and Tribal emergency response commissions, thus further advancing information sharing in support of bolstering community preparedness. With respect to Safety Recommendation R-14-6, PHMSA has long stressed that it is the offeror's responsibility, under § 173.22 of the HMR, to ensure that hazardous materials are properly classified. To reinforce this requirement with respect to unrefined petroleum-based products (e.g., crude oil), the HMR also require offerors to institute a sampling and testing program in accordance with § 173.41.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 9/27/2016
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains, published on July 29, 2016. This NPRM addresses issues raised in an August 1, 2014, advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding comprehensive oil spill response planning thresholds for high-hazard flammable trains (HHFT) and plan review by local and federal agencies. This NPRM also addresses local agency emergency planning and information sharing and guidance for offerors on classifying crude oil for hazardous materials transportation. Proposal Topic C—Initial Boiling Point Test Summary PHMSA proposes to incorporate by reference in the HMR the Standard Test Method for Determination of Light Hydrocarbons in Stabilized Crude Oils by Gas Chromatography, ASTM D7900, for determining the boiling range distribution of hydrocarbons in crude oil for testing Class 3 packing group assignments. Method D7900 is identified in ANSI/API recommended practice 3000 (API RP 3000), Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars, as an industry best practice. PHMSA proposes not to replace the currently authorized initial boiling point testing methods but to add method D7900 as an alternative. While not stated in the NPRM, this topic would partly address NTSB Safety Recommendation R-14-006, which was issued as a result of the July 6, 2013, Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, train derailment. The NTSB safety recommendation reads as follows: R-14-006 Require shippers to sufficiently test and document the physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials to ensure the proper classification, packaging, and record-keeping of products offered in transportation. Response In the NTSB’s July 12, 2016, response letter to PHMSA’s action on recommendation R 14 006, we expressed concern that the HMR provides numerous insufficient test methods for shippers to choose from when testing flammable hazardous materials to determine the packing group assignment. Existing section 173.121(a)(2) lists five test methods that are permitted to be used to determine the initial boiling point of Class 3 materials: • Standard Test Method for Distillation of Petroleum Products at Atmospheric Pressure (ASTM D86) • Standard Test Method for Distillation Range of Volatile Organic Liquids (ASTM D1078) • Petroleum products—Determination of distillation characteristics at atmospheric pressure (ISO 3405) • Petroleum products—Determination of boiling range distribution—Gas chromatography method (ISO 3924) • Volatile organic liquids—Determination of boiling range of organic solvents used as raw materials (ISO 4626) Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) recently reported that due to significant variability in criteria and procedures utilized in selection, acquisition, and analysis of crude oil samples, the available data are of insufficient quality to enable a meaningful comparison of crude oils—either to each other or against a designated standard. For example, the report noted that the initial boiling point of crude oil is usually tested by Standard Method for Distillation of Petroleum Products at Atmospheric Pressure, ASTM D86, which Sandia criticized because it is not the most accurate or most appropriate for determining packing group. The report suggested that method D86 yields initial boiling point results that characterize substances as less hazardous than the results of other methods such as ASTM D7900. The NTSB further notes that D86 Scope section 1.2 states, “The test method is designed for the analysis of distillate fuels; it is not applicable to products containing appreciable quantities of residual material.” Crude oil is not a distillate fuel. Additionally, test methods ASTM D1078, ISO 3405, ISO 3924, and ISO 4626 are for either finished fuels or specific organic liquids, and they are not appropriate for crude oil and could result in the misclassification of crude oil shipments. The NPRM proposal adds ASTM D7900 to the test methods offerors may use to determine the initial boiling point of flammable materials. However, adding a new test method without eliminating one or more inappropriate and possibly less accurate method results only in additional data variability among offerors who choose ASTM D7900 and those who select other approved methods. We are therefore concerned that failure to mandate specific and the most appropriate sampling and testing methods may result in misclassification and data variability that limits its usefulness for research. We urge PHMSA to identify the most appropriate flammable material classification method and require uniform sampling and testing techniques to provide a high level of confidence that materials are being properly classified, packaged, and shipped. The NPRM discussion suggests that PHMSA has already established the bases for exclusively using method D7900 for initial boiling point determination for crude oil: For the initial boiling point test, the API RP 3000 concluded that for crude oils containing volatile, low molecular weight components (e.g. methane), the recommended best practice is to test using ASTM D7900. This test ensures a minimal loss of light ends because it determines the boiling range distribution from methane through n nonane with an [initial boiling point] defined as the temperature at which 0.5 weight percent loss is observed when determining the boiling range distribution defined in ASTM D7169. This test differs from the boiling point test options currently in the HMR, which do not remove and recover the light ends. We urge PHMSA to consider the guidelines in API RP 3000 for initial boiling point determination. Currently, the API recommended practice indicates the use of ASTM D7900 and D7169 for determining the initial boiling point in crude oil liquids. However, the Sandia report also notes that although ASTM D7900 and ASTM D7169 will yield a full boiling point distribution and improve on method D86, it still may not yield the most representative initial boiling point value for crude oil because these chromatographic methods are subject to the complexities of the crude oil mixture. Sandia continues to study this issue and will issue findings on more appropriate methods for crude oil testing. API RP 3000 is an industry standard that is widely recognized and readily updated to include future research findings, such as those issued by Sandia. The Sandia report also pointed out that samples are acquired from a wide range of supply chain points using a variety of open and closed container sampling techniques and characterized using a variety of analysis methods. To minimize initial boiling point measurement variability, API RP 300 First Edition section 5.6.4.1.1 recommends the sampling of crude oil in accordance with ASTM D4057 to minimize the loss of low molecular weight components from crude oil samples. However, since the publication of API RP 300 First Edition, Standard Practice for Manual Piston Cylinder Sampling for Volatile Crude Oils, Condensates, and Liquid Petroleum Products (ASTM D8009,) has been developed for the sampling of crude oil for initial boiling point testing. We urge PHMSA to consider the effects of sampling methods on the variability of crude oil test results, such as initial boiling point, and specify a sampling method that reduces variability. We urge PHMSA to identify the most appropriate flammable material classification method and require uniform sampling and testing techniques to provide a high level of confidence that materials are properly classified, packaged, and shipped. The NTSB offers no additional comments to the NPRM. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the PHMSA NPRM.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 7/12/2016
Response: We note your position (1) that the physical and chemical properties of manufactured and refined products are typically purer and therefore follow a more predictable classification pattern than other, lesser-known materials, and (2) that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration already requires documentation for hazardous chemical products under its safety data sheet requirement. We also note that you plan no further action at this time to require shippers to test and document the physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials beyond the scope of final rule HM-251. The final rule adopts a new section 173.41 for sampling and testing requirements for shippers transporting unrefined petroleum products. We remain concerned, however, that the failure to mandate specific and most appropriate sampling and testing methods may result in data variability that limits its usefulness for both classification and research purposes. The recent Sandia Report concluded that “due to significant variability in criteria and procedures utilized in selection, acquisition, and analysis of crude oil samples, the available data are of insufficient quality to enable a meaningful comparison of crude oils—either to each other or against a designated standard.” That report also concluded that samples are acquired from a wide range of supply chain points using a variety of open and closed sampling techniques and characterized using a variety of analysis methods. Although newly adopted section 173.41 requires a sampling and testing program and outlines methods the shipper selects to classify the material under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs), the regulation allows shippers to subjectively select sampling and testing methods rather than using uniformly mandated standards. For example, there are eight authorized methods for determining the flash point for a flammable liquid. Five methods are available for determining the initial boiling point. We urge you to continue working with stakeholders to identify the most appropriate methods and uniform sampling and testing techniques to provide a high level of confidence that materials are being properly classified, packaged, and shipped. We also urge you to reconsider your position regarding this recommendation. Pending your reply to this request, Safety Recommendation R-14-6 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE 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. The final rule adopts a new section 49 CFR 173.41, which plainly outlines minimum sampling and testing requirements for shippers transporting unrefined petroleum-based products, i.e., hazardous petroleum hydrocarbons extracted from the earth that has yet to be refined for consumer or industrial use. The new section also reinforces the certification requirement of 49 CFR 172.204, requires documentation of the testing and sampling program, and must make this information available to DOT personnel, upon request. The sampling and testing program requirements address the following key elements to ensure the variability of the physical and chemical characteristics of these products are carefully considered for purposes of classification, selection of packaging, and documentation for materials offered in transportation: •?Sampling and testing frequency that accounts for variability of the material; •?Sampling prior to offering into transport or at any instance when the material properties may change (e.g., at a point in the supply chain where material from different sources are mixed or blended); •?Sampling methodology to ensure a representative sample is collected; •?Use of test methods that enable classification in accordance with the 49 CFR; •?Quality control measures for sampling frequencies; •?Duplicate sampling or equivalent measures for quality assurance; •?Criteria for modifying the sampling and testing program; and •?Testing or other appropriate methods used to identify properties of the mixture relevant to packaging requirements. We also concur with NTSB that the inherent safety of the hazardous materials transportation network is based on the shippers’ classification of hazardous materials. Proper classification is integral to determination of the appropriate packaging, hazard communication, and emergency response. We disagree that there should be an across-the-board requirement to test and document the physical and chemical characteristics. Shippers of hazardous material are already required to certify performance and properly classify and describe hazardous material (see 49 CFR 172.204 and 173.22(a) (1), respectively). To a great extent, this is a matter of reinforcing what is already codified rather adopting new regulation. Unrefined petroleum-based products present a unique situation such that the classification of the material may change because of the potential for variability in the material properties as a function of time, location, method of extraction, temperature at time of extraction, and the type and extent of conditioning or processing of the material. The intent of the requirement of this sampling and testing plan is to address these materials that have inherent variability of properties. The physical and chemical properties of manufactured and refined products are typically purer and therefore follow a more predictable classification pattern than other, lesser-known materials. Additionally, we believe a requirement for a testing and documentation program for all hazardous material and oversight of such a requirement would be overly burdensome and in some ways duplicative as, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration already has documentation requirements for hazardous chemical products under its Safety Data Sheet requirement which includes a requirement for information on physical and chemical properties. At this time, we plan no further action to require shippers to sufficiently test and document the physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials beyond the scope of the final rule.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 12/12/2014
Response: We are aware that your NPRM proposes a new section, 49 CFR section 173.41, requiring shippers to implement a documented sampling and testing program for mined gases and liquids, including crude oil, addressing key elements designed to ensure the proper classification and characterization of mined liquids and gases. We also are aware that the NPRM proposes to require shippers to routinely review and revise their programs, as well as to retain and provide documentation of their programs. Pending the issuance of the final rule as described, Safety Recommendation R-14-6 remains classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: PHMSA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/4/2014
Response: -From Timothy P. Butters, Administrator: This letter provides an update on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) recent and future actions to address the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations R-12-5, R-12-6, R-14-4, R-14-5, and R-14-6. NTSB issued Safety Recommendations R-12-5 and R-12-6 as a result of its investigation of the June 19, 2009 train derailment in Cherry Valley, Illinois. NTSB issued Safety Recommendations R-14-4, R-14-5, and R-14-6 as a result of its participation in Canada’s Transportation Safety Board investigation of the July 6, 2013 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic freight train in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. On August 1, 2014, PHMSA, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published two notices relevant to the above-referenced NTSB Safety Recommendations. The first is an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) entitled “Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans for High-Hazard Flammable Trains” (HM-251B; 79 FR 45079). The second is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains” (HM-251; 79 FR 45015). These notices propose changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 C.F.R. Parts 171-180) that are relevant to the above-referenced NTSB Safety Recommendations, including: •?Improved tank car standards for new and existing high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs), proposed to be defined as a train consisting of twenty or more carloads of Class 3 flammable liquid (NPRM); •?Expanded rail route planning and selection requirements that would include HHFTs (NPRM); •?Enhanced frequency, methods, and documentation requirements for sampling and testing of mined gases and liquids for the purpose of classification and characterization (NPRM); and •?Extended comprehensive oil spill response plan requirements that would include HHFTs (ANPRM). The comment period on the ANPRM and NPRM closed on September 30, 2014. PHMSA and FRA are currently reviewing comments and anticipate issuing a corresponding NPRM and Final Rule PHMSA’s and FRA’s completed and planned actions with respect to these NTSB recommendations are discussed below. PHMSA’s recent NPRM (HM-251) proposes a new 49 C.F.R. § 173.41 that would explicitly require offerors to have a documented sampling and testing program for mined gases and liquids, which includes crude oil. As proposed, the program would address the following key elements that are designed to ensure proper classification and characterization of mined liquids and gases: •?frequency of sampling and testing to account for appreciable variability of the material, including the time, temperature, means of extraction (including any use of a chemical), and location of extraction; •?sampling at various points along the supply chain to understand the variability of the material during transportation; •?sampling methods that ensure a representative sample of the entire mixture, as packaged, is collected; •?testing methods to enable complete analysis, classification, and characterization of the material under the HMR; •?statistical justification for sample frequencies; •?duplicate samples for quality assurance purposes; and •?criteria for modifying the sampling and testing program. Additionally, the proposal would require offerors to routinely review and revise these plans as well as retain and provide documentation of them.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 9/29/2014
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) August 1, 2014, notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains. In this notice, PHMSA, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), proposes new operational requirements and improved tank car standards for certain trains transporting large volumes of hazard class 3 flammable liquids. It also proposes revising the general requirements for offerors to ensure proper classification and characterization of mined gases and liquids. PHMSA notes that the proposed requirements are designed to reduce the frequency and consequences of accidents involving certain trains transporting large volumes of flammable liquids. The risks posed by such trains are illustrated in the catastrophic consequences of recent derailments at Casselton, North Dakota; Aliceville, Alabama; and Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. The NPRM also addresses Safety Recommendations R-14-6. We are pleased that you are taking a broad systems approach in this NPRM?encompassing accident prevention, mitigation, and emergency response—toward managing the safety risks posed by high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs). PHMSA proposes to improve performance standards for existing tank cars and establish standards for new DOT specification 117 (DOT 117) and specification 117P (DOT-117P) tank cars. PHMSA also addresses classification and characterization of mined gases and liquids, requires rail routing risk assessment for HHFTs, requires notification to state emergency response commissions (SERC) of the operation of trains transporting 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil in their jurisdictions, and requires reduced operating speeds and enhanced braking. The NTSB emphasizes the importance of implementing the six safety recommendations listed above as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, we are also concerned about several aspects of the proposed regulations: 1. The proposed requirements for notifying state agencies about rail shipments of hazardous materials through their territories do not include ethanol. 2. The proposed notification requirements are limited to shipments of crude oil from only one area (Bakken formation). 3. The proposed classification and characterization rules do not apply to all hazardous materials. 4. The proposed classification and characterization rules do not include specific requirements for the sampling and testing needed to properly characterize hazardous materials destined for rail shipment. 5. The proposed speed restrictions are based on a large populated area rather than on a potential impact radius where individuals could be harmed along flammable liquids rail corridors. 6. The proposed enhanced standards for new and existing tank cars offer options that do not achieve an acceptable level of safety and protection. 7. The proposed alternative tank car performance standards lack impact-resistance metrics. 8. The proposed retrofitting requirements for existing DOT-111 tank cars do not require top fittings protection. 9. The proposed bulk packaging standards would allow existing legacy DOT-111 fleet to remain in flammable liquid service on trains not designated as HHFTs. The proper classification and characterization of hazardous materials is a key requirement under the hazardous materials regulations. Classification (determination of a material’s hazard class based on certain physical properties) and characterization (determination of a material’s other relevant chemical and physical properties) are of paramount importance in selecting appropriate packaging, in assessing risks when developing safety and security plans, and in assuring the safety of emergency responders and other individuals who might come in contact with hazardous materials. The importance of accurate classification is underscored by your proposed phase-out schedule for DOT-111 tank cars in HHFT service. We are concerned that the proposed classification and characterization rule applies only to mined gases and liquids. We believe that the rules should apply to shippers of all hazardous materials, as is the intent of Safety Recommendation R 14 6. Although the current hazardous materials regulations prescribe test methods for assigning appropriate classifications, shippers are not required to maintain records showing that the physical and chemical properties of a hazardous material were sufficiently evaluated to justify the description and classification used in transporting it. We support the proposed 49 CFR 173.41 sampling and testing program. The proposed regulation addresses issues that prompted us to issue Safety Recommendation R-14-6, such as offerors using generic safety data sheets that result in improper classification of crude oil, rather than validating crude oil properties through testing. We are concerned, however, that the proposed rule does not include specific requirements for characterization tests that would identify the effects of a material on both the reliability and the safety of packaging. Physical testing would improve the evaluation of a material for its impact on operational and package selection requirements under the hazardous materials regulations. We agree with your proposal to require shippers to maintain records of sampling, testing, personnel training, and other elements of the program. Permanent records, electronic or paper-based, will provide evidence that a shipper is following the written program. Your proposal addresses the intent of the recordkeeping issue raised in Safety Recommendation R 14 6. PHMSA also seeks comment from the regulated community on the role of vapor pressure in the classification, characterization, and packaging of flammable liquids, and on whether regulatory changes to establish vapor pressure thresholds for packaging selection are necessary. We believe that setting vapor pressure thresholds for packaging selection would clarify package limitations for shippers and encourage them to select the safest tank car for transporting flammable materials. We understand that the purpose of a vapor pressure threshold would be to define the point at which volatile flammable materials would require transport in pressure tank cars. We suggest that you review the TSB laboratory report on the analysis of crude oil samples, which suggests that the size of a fireball resulting from the ignition of spilled crude oil strongly depends on vapor pressure. Question 3. Would more or less specificity regarding the components of a sampling and testing program aid offerers (sic) of shipments to be in compliance with proposed § 173.41? We believe the rule should specify minimum required properties of mined gas and liquids to be included in sampling and testing plans and that it should list acceptable test methods. Without uniform testing and sampling requirements, shippers are free to develop individual testing regimes, which can yield subjective characterizations of hazardous materials. Moreover, non-uniform testing will not support data analysis or enforcement. Question 4. Do the guidelines provides (sic) sufficient clarity to offerors to understand whether they are in compliance with these requirements? As noted in the NPRM, the American Petroleum Institute is developing Recommended Practice 3000 to spell out industry best practices for testing and sampling methods. We urge you to consider adopting an appropriate recommended practice or to provide specific guidance in the rule mandating uniform sampling and testing methods.

From: NTSB
To: PHMSA
Date: 7/29/2014
Response: We understand that you are working with the FRA to develop a notice of proposed rulemaking titled Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains (HM-251), docket number PHMSA-2012-0082, which proposes a comprehensive approach to rail safety to improve tank car integrity, provides additional operational controls, enhances emergency response, and establishes methods to improve the classification and characterization of hazardous materials. Pending issuance of a final rule that includes these provisions, Safety Recommendation R-14-6 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: PHMSA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/11/2014
Response: -From Cynthia L. Quarterman, Administrator: The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) require that shippers properly and accurately classify and describe hazardous materials before transportation. PHMSA agrees with NTSB that the inherent safety of the transportation system is based on the shippers' initial classification of their hazardous materials. PHMSA has taken many actions to clarify the current regulatory requirements. Before this recommendation was issued on November 20, 2013, PHMSA and FRA jointly issued Safety Advisory 2013-07 to reinforce the importance of proper characterization, classification, and selection of packing group for flammable materials. The safety advisory emphasized specific definitions for the proper classification of petroleum crude oil and the selection of shipping names and packing groups. The advisory also announced PHMSA's "Operation Classification" initiative, in which PHMSA and FRA conducted unannounced inspections and testing to verify hazardous material classifications selected and certified by shippers of petroleum crude oil. PHMSA continues to test samples of crude oil to further evaluate the chemical characteristics of this material. On January 2, 2014, PHMSA also issued a safety alert warning of the flammability of the crude oil extracted from the Bakken Shale region in the United States .6 PHMSA noted that the alert reinforces the requirement to properly test, characterize, classify, and where appropriate sufficiently degasify hazardous materials prior to transportation. PHMSA also stressed that offerors "must ensure that all potential hazards of the materials are properly characterized," and assign the appropriate classification and packing group to crude oil shipments. In addition, as one of its commitments to the "Call to Action," API agreed to cooperate with PHMSA to share information and expertise on crude oil characteristics. Specifically, API committed to develop a comprehensive standard for testing and classification of crude oil based on the best available science and data. PHMSA is participating in this effort aimed at ensuring crude oil is packaged and shipped safely and appropriately. Finally, on March 6, 2014, Secretary Foxx issued an amended and restated Emergency Restriction I Prohibition Order (E0).7 This EO directed all persons who offer for transportation, or transport, in tank cars by rail in commerce to, from and within the United States, a bulk quantity of petroleum crude oil to ensure that the petroleum crude oil is properly tested and classified in accordance with the HMR. Thus, the order requires flash point and initial boiling point classification testing to have been conducted within the reasonable, recent past for all crude oil in order to assign a proper packing group. For offerors without sufficient knowledge to classify their petroleum crude oil, in addition to the tests required by the Amended Order, testing to characterize and classify the hazardous materials necessary to comply with the HMR may include, but is not limited to, percentage presence of flammable gases; vapor pressure; presence, concentration and content of compounds such as sulfur/hydrogen sulfide; and corrosivity. PHMSA, in coordination with FRA, is developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled "Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High Hazard Flammable Trains (HM-251)" (Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0082). This rulemaking will propose a comprehensive approach to rail safety to improve tank car integrity, provide additional operational controls, enhance emergency response, and establish methods to improve classification and characterization of hazardous materials.