Federal agencies Rail Transportation

PHMSA extends comment period on proposed railroad hazmat information rule


Photo: National Transportation Safety Board

Washington — The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has extended until Oct. 27 the comment period on a proposed rule that would require railroads to maintain and update hazardous material shipment information.

The move comes in response to a request from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Under the proposal, railroads would have to send the information to first responders as soon as they’re aware of hazmat incidents.

“When railroads transport hazardous materials, they must do so safely and responsibly,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a June 21 press release. “Our proposal would improve rail safety and help protect communities across the country by requiring railroads to maintain detailed, real-time information about trains carrying hazardous materials.”

The proposed rule, initially published on June 27, “responds to congressional mandates in the FAST Act,” along with a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation. Additionally, the proposal incorporates “lessons learned from firefighters” who responded to the February derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, OH.

The requirements would cover all railroad classes.

“Firefighters are often first to show up at many emergencies, including train derailments and hazmat incidents,” Edward A. Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said in the release. “Accurate, up-to-date information about train contents is critical to keep first responders and the communities they serve safe. The IAFF strongly supports the Department of Transportation’s new rule that would give firefighters real-time data allowing for safer responses. We applaud the DOT for prioritizing firefighter and public safety.”

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