Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Federal Railroad Administration Issues Order For Trains With Hazardous Materials

Washington, DC- Earlier this month, the Federal Railroad Administration issued an emergency order to prevent hazardous materials from moving or spilling. The FRA emergency order outlines measures that all trains are expected to take within the next month:
  • No train or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials can be left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard or terminal, unless specifically authorized.
  • In order to receive authorization to leave a train unattended, railroads must develop and submit to FRA a process for securing unattended trains transporting hazardous materials, including locking the locomotive or otherwise disabling it, and reporting among employees to ensure the correct number of hand brakes are applied.
  • Employees who are responsible for securing trains and vehicles transporting such specified hazardous material must communicate with the train dispatchers the number of hand brakes applied, the tonnage and length of the train or vehicle, the grade and terrain features of the track, any relevant weather conditions, and the type of equipment being secured.
  • Train dispatchers must record the information provided. The dispatcher or other qualified railroad employees must verify that the securement meets the railroad’s requirements.
  • Railroads must implement rules ensuring that any employee involved in securing a train participate in daily job briefings prior to the work being performed.
  • Railroads must develop procedures to ensure a qualified railroad employee inspects all equipment that an emergency responder has been on, under or between before the train can be left unattended.
  • Railroads must provide this EO to all affected employees
Derailed Train in Louisiana Spills Hazardous Materials
Derailed Train in Louisiana (Washington Post)
The FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Safety Advisory, calling for trains transporting hazardous materials to have multiple certified crew members who can act in case of another emergency.

Earlier this August, a derailed Louisiana train spilled highly flammable and toxic materials. The area was evacuated and cleaning crews were called in to remove the hazardous materials. 

"We are taking this action today and we will be looking hard at the current rail operating practices for hazardous materials to ensure the public's safety," stated PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman.

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