Proposed rule covers cargo tank loading, unloading

March 16, 2011

Washington – Proposed changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration could require workers who load and unload cargo tanks to perform a risk assessment of the process and implement safe operating procedures.

According to a notice of proposed rulemaking (.pdf file) published in the March 11 Federal Register, the rule would affect cargo tank carriers and facilities that engage in loading or unloading operations with hazardous materials. Proposed changes include:

  • Assess the risks of loading and unloading operations and develop written operating procedures
  • Train hazmat employees in the relevant aspects of the operational procedures
  • Develop and implement a periodic maintenance schedule to prevent deterioration of equipment and conduct periodic operational tests to ensure the equipment functions as intended

Four hazardous chemical incidents were outlined in the NPRM, including the release of methyl mercaptan from a rail tank car during unloading in Michigan. Three plant employees were killed in the resulting fire and release of chlorine, and about 2,000 nearby residents were evacuated from their homes.

Comments on the NPRM are due May 10.