The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Association this month proposed new regulations for trains that transport highly flammable cargo such as crude oil. The purpose of the new rules, which fulfill a mandate under the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, is to give local communities, especially first responders and other emergency response planners, more of a heads up so they will be better prepared for oil spills and other accidents and derailments.
The proposed rule would require certain high-hazard flammable (HHF) trains to have comprehensive oil spill response plans rather than basic plans that are presently mandated.
Some carriers are concerned that the new requirements will pose risks to the confidentiality of their business operations because the information requested from railroads could expose carriers and local communities to security risks. There also are concerns that the information sharing could affect competitiveness among railroads. Information that would have to be turned over includes, for example, the number of HHF trains expected to travel through each county each week in a specific state, along with the train routes.
I spoke with Law360 about carriers’ reservations about the new regulations. The article, titled “DOT Oil Train Rule Sparks Security, Compliance Concerns,” can be viewed here (subscription required).
For more information about the PHMSA’s proposed regulations for Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s PHMSA website here.