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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

PHMSA, in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration, is issuing this NPRM to propose revisions to regulations that would expand the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans (OSRPs) based on thresholds of liquid petroleum oil that apply to an entire train consist. Specifically, we are proposing to expand the applicability for comprehensive OSRPs so that any railroad that transports a single train carrying 20 or more loaded tank cars of liquid petroleum oil in a continuous block or a single train carrying 35 or more loaded tank cars of liquid petroleum oil throughout the train consist must also have a current comprehensive written OSRP. We are further proposing to revise the format and clarify the requirements of a comprehensive OSRP (e.g., requiring that covered railroads develop response zones describing resources available to arrive onsite to a worst-case discharge, or the substantial threat of one, which are located within 12 hours of each point along the route used by trains subject to the comprehensive OSRP). We also solicit comment on defining high volume areas and staging resources using alternative response times, including shorter response times for spills that could affect such high volume areas. Further, in accordance with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015, this action proposes to require railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train operations with state and tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness and seeks comments on these proposals. Lastly, PHMSA is proposing to incorporate by reference an initial boiling point test for flammable liquids from the ASTM D7900 method referenced in the American National Standards Institute/American Petroleum Institute Recommend Practices 3000, "Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars," First Edition, September 2014 as an acceptable testing alternative to the boiling point tests currently specified in the HMR. PHMSA believes providing this additional boiling test option provides regulatory flexibility and promotes enhanced safety in transport through accurate packing group assignment.

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