RAILROAD (Post-Lac-Mégantic Developments) / PHMSA held their two-day meeting in late August to discuss regulatory responses, then PHMSA issued a formal call for ideas in the form of an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Canada’s counterpart to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, wrote to PHMSA and Transport Canada (1) calling for new labeling regulations for flammable liquids carried in railcars, and (2) questioning the adequacy of Class 111 tank cars for carrying “low flash” flammable liquids like crude oil.

The September 11 letters from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada should catch the attention of this sector for their specificity and, each in their own way, far-reaching potential industry impact (letter to Transport Canada here, and letter to PHMSA here). Of course the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, like its U.S. counterpart, the NTSB, has a persuasive voice – but it is up to Transport Canada and PHMSA, respectively, to actually issue new rules.

In addition, post- Lac-Mégantic proposals are pending in the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament.

PHMSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – again, a document that is actually an extended call for comments without offering a template bearing the agency’s imprimatur (yet) – is available here.

It is hard to overstate the regulatory significance of the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe for carriage of crude oil by rail tank car operations. 

RAILROADS (RESPONSE TO LAC-MÉGANTIC TRAGEDY) / Presumably part of the federal government’s response to Lac-Mégantic tragedy: U.S. DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) Hazardous Materials Division announces along with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration a 2-day meeting August 27-28 about “a public meeting addressing the transportation of hazardous materials by rail”.

“Hazardous Materials: Improving the Safety of Railroad Transportation of Hazardous Materials”

July 18, 2013. Announcement of Public Meeting and Establishment of Public Docket.

The announcement does not mention any particular reason. But it’ a two-day public meeting that they are just announcing 4 weeks before the event.

My calls to specific people at the Hazardous Materials Division did not reach anyone who could give me more detail about background.

RAILROADS (TRANSPORT CANADA EMERGENCY SAFETY RULES DANGEROUS GOODS TANK CARS IN A TRAIN CONSIST) / Transport Canada announced emergency railway safety rules in wake of Lac-Mégantic tragedy following two advisory letters to it from Transportation Safety Board of Canada (counterpart to U.S. National Transportation Safety Board): (1) Require 2 operators on a locomotive attached to loaded tank cars carrying “dangerous goods” (counterpart to U.S. usage “hazardous materials”), and (2) ensure that no trains are left unattended while transporting loaded tank cars with dangerous goods.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada sent two advisory letters to Transport Canada (July 18, 2013 advisory letter available here, and July 19, 2013 advisory letter available here).

In response to these two advisory letters, Transport Canada issued an emergency directive pursuant to Section 33 of Canada’s Railway Safety Act.  

Emergency directive available here