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DOT/PHMSA RIN: 2137-AF08 Publication ID: Fall 2015 
Title: Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains 

In this rulemaking, PHMSA is seeking comment on revisions to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) applicable to the transportation of oil by rail. Currently, the majority of the rail community transporting oil, including crude oil transported as a hazardous material, is subject to the basic oil spill response plan requirement of 49 CFR 130.31(a) based on the understanding that most rail tank cars being used to transport crude oil have a capacity greater than 3,500 gallons. However, a comprehensive response plan for the shipment of oil is only required when the oil is in a quantity greater than 42,000 gallons per package. Tank cars of this size are not used to transport oil by rail. As a result, the railroads do not file a comprehensive oil response plan. Based on this difference and the recent occurrence of high-profile accidents involving crude oil, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended in Safety Recommendation R-14-5 that the Department and PHMSA reconsider the threshold quantity for requiring the development of a comprehensive response plan for the shipment of oil. In response to the NTSB Safety Recommendation R-14-5 and significant interest from congressional stakeholders, environmental groups, and the general public, PHMSA is seeking specific comment on revisions to the oil spill response plan requirements in 49 CFR part 130, including threshold quantities.

Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 49 CFR 130    49 CFR 174   
Legal Authority: 49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need: This rulemaking is important to mitigate the effects of potential train accidents involving the release of flammable liquid energy products by increasing planning and preparedness. The proposals in this rulemaking are shaped by public comments, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations, analysis of recent accidents, and input from stakeholder outreach efforts (including first responders). To this end, PHMSA will consider expanding the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans; clarifying the requirements for comprehensive oil spill response plans; requiring railroads to share additional information; and providing an alternative test method for determining the initial boiling point of a flammable liquid.

Summary of the Legal Basis: The authority of 49 U.S.C. 5103(b), which authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to "prescribe regulations for the safe transportation, including security, of hazardous materials in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce." The authority of 33 U.S.C. 1321, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), which directs the President to issue regulations requiring owners and operators of certain vessels and onshore and offshore oil facilities to develop, submit, update and in some cases obtain approval of oil spill response plans. Executive Order 12777 delegated responsibility to the Secretary of Transportation for certain transportation-related facilities. The Secretary of Transportation delegated the authority to promulgate regulations to PHMSA and provides FRA the approval authority for railroad ORSPs.

Alternatives: PHMSA and FRA are committed to a comprehensive approach to addressing the risk and consequences of derailments involving flammable liquids by addressing not only oil spill response plans, but communication requirements between railroads and communities. Obtaining information and comments in a NPRM will provide the greatest opportunity for public participation in the development of regulatory amendments, and promote greater exchange of information and perspectives among the various stakeholders to promote future regulatory action on these issues.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The NPRM will request comments on both the path forward and the economic impacts. We will evaluate comments prior to developing the final rule, and once the final rule is drafted the costs and benefits will be detailed.

Risks: DOT analyzed recent incidents, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations, received input from stakeholder outreach efforts (including first responders) to determine amending the applicability and requirements of comprehensive oil spill response plans and codifying requirements for information sharing is important. DOT will continue to research these topics and evaluate comment feedback prior to the final rule. DOT expects the highest ranked options will be low cost and most effective at providing better preparedness and planning to mitigate the effects of a derailment.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  08/01/2014  79 FR 45079   
ANPRM Comment Period End  09/30/2014 
NPRM  01/00/2016 
Additional Information: HM-251B; SB - N, IC - N, SLT - N;
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Related RINs: Related to 2137-AE91, Related to 2137-AF07  Related Agencies: Common: DOT/FRA; 
Agency Contact:
Lad Falat
Director, Engineering and Research
Department of Transportation
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590
Phone:202 366-4545