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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

PHMSA extends public comment period for proposed haz-mat rulemaking

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has extended the public comment deadline from Nov. 5 to Dec. 5 regarding a proposed rulemaking that would revise regulations governing hazardous materials moved by rail.

A request from the Sierra Club on behalf of several environmental groups prompted the PHMSA to extend the comment period by 30 days to provide the public sufficient time to review proposed rail safety changes, particularly regulations pertaining to tank cars transporting crude oil, administration officials said in a news brief.

In September, the PHMSA released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking titled, "Hazardous Materials: Rail Petitions and Recommendations to Improve the Safety of Railroad Tank Car Transportation." The rulemaking proposes to relax regulatory requirements to afford the Federal Railroad Administration greater discretion to authorize the movement of non-conforming tank cars; impose additional requirements that would correct an unsafe condition associated with pressure relief valves on rail cars transporting carbon dioxide; relax regulatory requirements applicable to the repair and maintenance of certain tank-car tanks; relax regulatory requirements for the removal of rupture discs for inspection if the removal process would damage, change or alter the device's intended operation; and impose additional requirements that would enhance the standards for "DOT-111" tank cars used to transport certain hazardous materials.

The proposed revisions are based on eight petitions received from the regulated community and four National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, PHMSA officials said.

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