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Interpretation Response #14-0015R

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 10-17-2014
Company Name: The Clorine Institute    Individual Name: Robyn Kinsley
Location state: VA    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

October 17, 2014

Robyn Kinsley
Director, Transportation
The Chlorine Institute
1300 Wilson Blvd, Suite 525
Arlington, VA  22209

Ref. No.: 14-0015R

Dear Ms. Kinsley:

This is a revised response to your January 21, 2014 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to tank cars used for materials poisonous by inhalation (PIH materials).  Your questions are paraphrased and answered below.

Q1. You ask if the 20-year service life established in 49 CFR § 173.31(e)(2)(iii) is meant to be an authorized “minimum” service life or a “maximum” service life after time of construction?

A1. In accordance with § 173.31(e)(2)(iii), a tank car meeting the applicable authorized tank car specifications listed in § 173.244(a)(2) or (3), or § 173.314(c) or (d) is authorized for the transportation of a PIH material for a period of 20 years after the date of original construction.  As written, the 20-year service life is authorized as a maximum service life.

Q2. You ask if this is indeed a “minimum” service life, are you correct to assume that these cars have a regulated life of 50 years per 49 CFR § 215.203?

A2: Please see A1.

Although the plain language of § 173.31(e)(2)(iii) limits the authorized service life of tank cars meeting the relevant specifications to 20 years from the date of the cars’ construction, the final rule in which PHMSA adopted this 20-year service life made clear that tank cars built to these specifications were intended as an interim solution to then-existing market conditions.   See 74 Fed. Reg. 1770 (Jan. 13, 2009).  These “interim” tank car specifications were intended to make immediate safety improvements in tank car construction and to ensure the ongoing availability of tank cars for the transportation of PIH materials, while the Department moved forward with the development and validation of an enhanced performance standard for PIH tank cars and the incorporation of such an enhanced standard into the HMR.  With the understanding of the “interim” nature of these cars, PHMSA intended the 20-year authorized service life to guarantee tank car owners a reasonable service life for the cars, even if the Department was to issue a new tank car standard in the years immediately following the 2009 final rule.  Currently, the Department is continuing its work towards developing and implementing an enhanced performance standard for PIH materials tank cars.  

If you believe that given current circumstances, tank cars built to specifications listed in § 173.244(a)(2) or (3), or § 173.314(c) or (d), should be authorized for PIH materials service in excess of 20 years (or that any other change to the regulatory requirements is warranted), we invite you to file a petition for rulemaking in accordance with §§ 106.95, 106.100 and 106.105 of the HMR, including all information needed to support your petition (e.g., an analysis of the service history of tank cars built to these “interim” standards and any other relevant safety-related information).  Your request will be further evaluated for merit to address in an upcoming rulemaking.  For regulations in 49 CFR Parts 171 through 180, please submit the petition to: Standards and Rulemaking Division, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, PHH-10, U.S. Department of Transportation, East Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.  Please contact Mr. Steven Andrews in the Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch of the Standards and Rulemaking Division at 202-366-8553 for more information.

I trust this satisfies your inquiry.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.31(e)(2)(iii), 173.244(a)(2) or (3), or § 173.314(c) or (d), 215.203, 106.95, 106.100 and 106.105

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 106.105 PHMSA response to a petition for rulemaking