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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), late last week issued a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail.
Specifically, the rule will permit the bulk transportation of LNG in DOT-113C120W9 (DOT-113) specification tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements and additional operational controls.
The rule's publication complies with an executive order President Trump signed in April 2019 that called for the U.S. Department of Transportation to prepare a rule regarding the transportation of LNG by rail in tank cars.
"The department's new rule carefully lays out key operational safeguards to provide for the safe transportation of LNG by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release.
With FRA approval, LNG had been authorized for transport by rail in a portable tank. Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations also have authorized the transportation of other flammable cryogenic materials for many years in DOT-113 tank cars. This final rule also incorporates newly designated additional safety requirements, such as an enhanced thicker carbon steel outer tank.
Additionally, the rule requires remote monitoring of the pressure and location of LNG tank cars. Moreover, to improve braking, the rule requires a two-way end of train or distributed power system when a train is transporting 20 or more tank cars loaded with LNG in a continuous block, or 35 or more such tank cars of LNG anywhere in the train consist. The rule also requires railroads to conduct route risk assessments to evaluate safety and security.
Although PHMSA has submitted the rule to the Federal Register, it has not yet been published. The version of what the agency submitted can be read here.