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Rail News: Shippers

Revisions to proposed PHMSA rule would better enhance rail safety, ACC says


The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to revise a proposed rule that would upgrade tank-car standards and make rail operations safer for transporting flammable liquids.

Last week, the council submitted comments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regarding its proposed rulemaking.

Improvements to the proposed rule would achieve better safety enhancements more quickly, ACC officials believe. They urged the USDOT to place the greatest priority on shipments of flammable liquids moved in high-volume train configurations.

"Based on the USDOT's own analysis, it is clear that the proposed rule was intended to specifically address very large train shipments of crude oil and ethanol. The rule is written so broadly that it would reach far beyond the intended rail shipments," ACC officials said in a press release. "Consequently, it would force more shippers to acquire new cars or to retrofit existing ones simultaneously, which would put further strains on tank-car suppliers and potentially delay upgrades to oil and ethanol cars."

The rule also calls for expansive speed restrictions on flammable liquid shipments that would impair the flow of traffic through the entire rail network at a time when railroads are already struggling to provide reliable service, they said.

Meanwhile, Dow Chemical Co. has made a strategic move with its tank-car fleet to boost cash flow. The company recently completed the sale of a substantial portion of its North American tank-car fleet and transitioned to a rail-car lease structure.

The move generated $450 million in cash proceeds and helped reinforce the company's commitment to identify alternative uses for capital, Dow officials said in a press release.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/6/2014