Safety Advisory 2009-02, 53321-53323 [E9-24927]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 199 / Friday, October 16, 2009 / Notices Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), to be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, October 26, 2009, via conference call at the Corporation’s Administration Headquarters, Suite W32–300, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC. The agenda for this meeting will be as follows: Opening Remarks; Consideration of Minutes of Past Meeting; Quarterly Report; Old and New Business; Closing Discussion; Adjournment. Attendance at the meeting is open to the interested public but limited to the space available. With the approval of the Administrator, members of the public may present oral statements at the meeting. Persons wishing further information should contact, not later than Friday, October 23, 2009, Anita K. Blackman, Chief of Staff, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590; 202–366– 0091. Any member of the public may present a written statement to the Advisory Board at any time. Issued at Washington, DC, on October 8, 2009. Collister Johnson, Jr., Administrator. [FR Doc. E9–24810 Filed 10–15–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–61–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration Safety Advisory 2009–02 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of Safety Advisory 2009– 02; Inspection of Bottom Outlet Valves and Assemblies. SUMMARY: FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2009–02 to ensure that tank cars with defective or inoperable bottom outlet valves are not loaded with hazardous materials and offered for transportation, or in the event that a bottom outlet valve becomes inoperable en route, adequate unloading procedures are followed to prevent any unintended release of the car’s contents. This safety advisory recommends specific loading and unloading procedures for hazardous materials tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves, as well as the inspection, and as necessary, the repair of these valves. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Albert R. Taber or Erich P. Rudolph, VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:37 Oct 15, 2009 Jkt 220001 Railroad Safety Specialists, Hazardous Materials Division, FRA Office of Safety Assurance and Compliance, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 493–6254, email: Albert.Taber@dot.gov; or telephone (202) 493–6248, e-mail: Erich.Rudolph@dot.gov). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background By way of the one-time movement approval process (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 174.50), FRA has documented approximately 390 service equipment failures of bottom outlet valves since 2004. One hundred and eight of these failures occurred in calendar year 2008 alone, and to date in 2009, approximately 110 failures have already occurred. FRA believes that these documented failures do not reflect the entire population of bottom outlet failures that occur each year, as many may go unreported. As exemplified by documented incidents of bottom outlet failures, a defective or inoperable bottom outlet valve may lead to the unintended release of a tank car’s contents during the unloading process. As an example, on October 28, 2004, at Techsol Chemical Company, in Huntington, WV, more than 22,000 gallons of a Class 3 hazardous material was released during the unloading of a tank car equipped with a bottom outlet valve. The release was determined to be the result of a bottom outlet valve clogged with sludge, and an unloading procedure that failed to detect the inoperative valve. On May 31, 2008, approximately 170,000 lbs of a Class 9 elevated temperature material was released during the unloading of a tank car equipped with a bottom outlet valve. The elevated temperature material had been heated to approximately 280 °F for unloading and although the individual unloading the car reportedly observed the bottom outlet valve handle secured and in the closed position, as that individual removed the bottom outlet cap, hot steamed resin was released from the bottom outlet, splashing the unloader. The resin released at a rate of approximately 160 gallons per minute and the unloader suffered first- and second-degree burns from contact with the material. The release was determined to be the result of a bent bottom outlet valve handle, which allowed the internal valve to be in the open position, and unloading procedures that failed to detect the inoperative valve. More recently, on May 13, 2009, approximately 23,500 gallons of hot asphalt, a Class 9 PO 00000 Frm 00109 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53321 hazardous material, was released during the unloading of a tank car equipped with a bottom outlet valve. In this case, because the valve operating handle was improperly applied to the valve assembly, the handle appeared to be in the closed position, but the internal valve was actually in the open position. Accordingly, this release was determined to be the result of the improperly applied valve handle, and loading and unloading procedures that failed to detect the improperly assembled valve. FRA believes that the occurrence of bottom outlet valve failures could be significantly reduced by (1) ensuring that certain procedures are followed during the tank car loading and unloading process, and (2) ensuring that a proper preliminary examination of the valve assembly is performed after a tank car is cleaned and purged, and before the car is loaded and offered for transportation. FRA’s recommendations in this safety advisory take into consideration the typical operational steps involved in loading/unloading tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves, regardless of whether the valve is ‘‘top-operated’’ or controlled by a valve-mounted handle (‘‘bottom-operated’’). Generally, the bottom outlet cap or plug should not be removed from a tank car’s bottom outlet discharge nozzle until it is ascertained that the bottom outlet valve is actually closed and functioning properly. In accordance with Appendix E of the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Tank Car Committee Tank Car Manual,1 tank car bottom outlet caps and plugs are designed to provide telltale warnings upon loosening if a bottom outlet valve is not functioning properly. Accordingly, the design of bottom outlet discharge nozzles and closures allows any product that has accumulated between the bottom outlet operating valves and the bottom outlet closure cap or plug (i.e., in the outlet chamber) to drain in a safe and controlled manner. Once it is determined, by using the relationship of the handle to the valve as an indicator, that the bottom outlet valve is in the closed position, a person unloading a tank car should loosen the bottom outlet cap a few turns, leaving sufficient threads engaged, and allowing the passage of sufficient time to permit the controlled seepage of any liquid accumulated in the outlet chamber. If a tank car is equipped with an auxiliary 1 AAR, Operations and Maintenance Department, Mechanical Division, ‘‘Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices Section C Part III– Specifications for Tank Cars M–1002’’ (revised annually). E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES 53322 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 199 / Friday, October 16, 2009 / Notices valve below the primary bottom outlet valve, that auxiliary valve should be in the open position, with its cap/plug removed, allowing an unloader to determine whether the primary valve is functioning properly. Once this accumulated product has drained out around the closure, the leakage should stop. This is an indication that the bottom outlet valve is functioning properly and that it is safe for the unloader to proceed with removing the bottom outlet cap or plug (a properly functioning bottom outlet valve in the closed position will contain the contents of the car on its own). If, however, leakage continues upon the loosening of a bottom outlet cap or plug, or there is an excessive amount of product drainage, this is an indication that the primary bottom outlet valve is not functioning properly (e.g., the valve may be defective, debris may be clogging the valve seat area and/or assembly components, or the valve is otherwise failing to function properly). Accordingly, the bottom outlet valve cap or plug should not be completely removed. Instead, the cap or plug should be secured and the tank should be unloaded from the fittings on top of the car. Unless FRA has granted a movement approval pursuant to 49 CFR 174.50, tank cars identified with bottom outlet valves not functioning properly cannot be offered into transportation in compliance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) (49 CFR Parts 171–180). The proper functioning of the bottom outlet valve is critical during the unloading of hazardous materials tank cars. Prior to June 1, 2005, the tank car unloading requirements of Part 174 of the HMR applied to all hazardous material tank car unloading operations. These requirements were set forth in Section 174.67 of the HMR and included certain procedural requirements. Specifically, Section 174.67(g) required that during tank car unloading operations, if leakage was apparent upon starting the removal of a tank’s bottom outlet cap, the cap may not be entirely unscrewed. Instead, Section 174.67(g) required that ‘‘[s]ufficient threads * * * be left engaged and sufficient time allowed to permit controlled escape of any accumulation of liquid in the outlet chamber.’’ Only if the leakage stopped or the rate of leakage diminished materially, could the bottom outlet cap be entirely removed in accordance with Section 174.67(g). That section further provided that ‘‘[i]f the initial rate of leakage continues, further efforts must be made to seat the outlet valve * * *. If this fails, the [bottom outlet cap] must VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:37 Oct 15, 2009 Jkt 220001 be screwed up tight and the tank must be unloaded through the dome.’’ On April 15, 2005, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule, which modified the HMR’s applicability to certain tank car unloading processes. See 72 FR 20018. The end result of this final rule was that the requirements of Section 174.67 related to the protection of train and engine crews operating within a shipper or consignee facility were consolidated in Part 173 of the HMR, and the remaining procedural requirements of Section 174.67, including paragraph (g), became applicable only to transloading operations (i.e., the transfer of a hazardous material from one packaging to another for the purpose of continuing transportation in commerce). Although the HMR currently only explicitly requires that the procedures of Section 174.67(g) be followed during transloading operations, FRA recommends that persons responsible for unloading hazardous materials tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves follow these procedures in all tank car unloading operations in order to detect an inoperable or defective bottom outlet valve, which could lead to an unintended release of a car’s contents during the unloading process. The proper functioning of the bottom outlet valve is also critical during the loading of railroad hazardous materials tank cars. Prior to July 1, 1996, the HMR specifically required that ‘‘[t]anks with bottom discharge outlets must have their outlet caps off, or outlet cap plugs open, during the entire time tanks are being loaded.’’ See 49 CFR 173.31(b) (1994). That same section of the HMR also prohibited tanks with bottom outlet valves which, after loading, permitted more than a dropping of the liquid contents of the tank with the outlet caps off, or the outlet cap plugs open, from being offered for transportation until proper repairs had been made. On September 21, 1995, the Research and Special Program Administration (RSPA), now known as PHMSA, published a final rule, developed jointly with FRA, that ‘‘revised and reorganized for clarity’’ 49 CFR 173.31, which addressed the qualification, maintenance, and use of tank cars. See 68 FR 49048, 49067 (effective July 1, 1996). RSPA’s stated intent in revising and reorganizing 49 CFR 173.31 was to ‘‘align[ ] the inspection requirements in * * * 173.31(b) with the design and operations requirements’’ generally applicable for packagings and packages in 49 CFR 173.24. Id. at 49064. RSPA intended the revision to ‘‘clarify [the inspection requirements’] full intent, PO 00000 Frm 00110 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 foster compliance with safety standards, and improve hazardous materials transportation safety.’’ Id. The rule was not intended to substantively modify the previous requirements of 49 CFR 173.31(b). Although explicit language no longer appears in the HMR requiring bottom outlet caps to be off or outlet cap plugs to be open during the loading process, or prohibiting loaded tank cars, with more than a dropping of liquid with their outlet caps off or outlet cap plugs open, from being offered for transportation until repairs have been made, the requirements of 49 CFR 173.24 remain the same. Specifically, 49 CFR 173.24 requires that packages used for the transportation of hazardous materials be ‘‘designed, constructed, maintained, filled, * * * contents so limited, and closed, so that under conditions normally incident to transportation * * * there will be no identifiable release of hazardous materials to the environment.’’ Accordingly, FRA recommends that persons responsible for loading tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves follow the inspection and operational procedures recommended below in order to detect an inoperable or defective bottom outlet valve, which could lead to an unintended release of the car’s contents during transportation or during the process of loading or unloading the car. FRA reminds those responsible for loading and unloading railroad tank cars that the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule regarding process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals (29 CFR 1910.119), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s risk management plan regulations (40 CFR Part 68), and other standards and rules of these agencies may also apply to tank car loading and unloading operations in certain circumstances. Recommended Action: Based on the necessity to reduce the number and severity of incidences due to bottom outlet valve failures and to enhance the public’s confidence in the safety of hazardous materials transportation by rail, FRA makes the following recommendations: 1. Loading a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With a Bottom Outlet Valve or Valves Persons responsible for loading a tank car equipped with a bottom outlet valve or valves should: 2. operate the bottom-outlet valve handle(s) to verify proper operation. Once proper operation has been E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 199 / Friday, October 16, 2009 / Notices verified, the valve(s) should be closed and secured, as appropriate. 3. ensure that the tank has its bottom outlet cap off, or outlet plug open, during the entire time the tank is being loaded. 4. ensure that bottom outlet auxiliary valve(s) (if a tank car is so equipped) is open during the entire time the tank is being loaded. 5. ensure that after loading, a tank with a bottom outlet valve that permits more than a dropping of the liquid contents of the car with the outlet cap off, or the outlet cap plug open, is not offered for transportation until proper repairs have been made. jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES 2. Unloading a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With a Bottom Outlet Valve or Valves Persons responsible for unloading a tank car equipped with a bottom outlet valve or valves should: 6. confirm that the bottom outlet valve is closed before loosening the bottom outlet cap or plug. If it cannot be confirmed that the bottom outlet valve is closed, the valve cap or plug should not be removed. Instead, the tank car should be unloaded through the fittings on top of the car, and corrective action taken to repair the bottom outlet valve. 7. ensure that during the unloading process, if leakage shows upon starting the removal of the bottom outlet cap or plug, the cap or plug should not be entirely unscrewed. Sufficient threads should be left engaged and sufficient time allowed to permit controlled escape of any accumulation of liquid in the outlet chamber. If the leakage stops, the cap or plug may be entirely removed. If leakage continues, further efforts must be made to seat the outlet valve. If this fails, the cap must be screwed up tight (or the plug secured), the tank must be unloaded through the fittings on top of the car, and corrective action must be taken to repair the bottom outlet valve. 3. Cleaning and Purging of a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With Bottom Outlet Valves Persons responsible for the cleaning and purging of tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves, should ensure that after the cleaning and purging process is complete, the bottom outlet valves and valve assemblies are examined for debris or obstructions prior to releasing the cars for further transportation. Sources for Additional Information Questions concerning the operation and maintenance of bottom outlet valves should be referred to the car owner for special instructions to ensure continued VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:37 Oct 15, 2009 Jkt 220001 reliability of the bottom outlet valve. For specific literature on loading/unloading tank cars, refer to the AAR’s Pamphlet No. 34 titled, ‘‘Recommended Methods for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Non-Pressure Tank Cars.’’ For purposes of this safety advisory, FRA seeks cooperation from the entities who are responsible for determining that tank cars are in proper condition and safe for transportation. FRA will continue to monitor the status of tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves in hazardous materials transportation and will take any necessary regulatory or enforcement action to ensure the highest level of safety on the Nation’s railroads. Issued in Washington, DC, on October 9, 2009. Jo Strang, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/ Chief Safety Officer. [FR Doc. E9–24927 Filed 10–15–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Open Meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (the PERAB) Departmental Offices. Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board will meet on November 2, 2009, in the White House Roosevelt Room, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The meeting will be open to the public via live Webcast at https:// www.whitehouse.gov/live. DATES: The meeting will be held on November 2, 2009 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The PERAB will convene its next meeting in the White House Roosevelt Room, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC. The public is invited to submit written statements to the Advisory Committee by any of the following methods: ADDRESSES: Electronic Statements • Send written statements to the PERAB’s electronic mailbox at PERAB@do.treas.gov; or Paper Statements • Send paper statements in triplicate to Emanuel Pleitez, Designated Federal Officer, President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Office of the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Room 1325A, Department of the Treasury, PO 00000 Frm 00111 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53323 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220. In general, all statements will be posted on the White House Web site (https://www.whitehouse.gov) without change, including any business or personal information provided such as names, addresses, e-mail addresses, or telephone numbers. The Department will also make such statements available for public inspection and copying in the Department’s Library, Room 1428, Main Department Building, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time. You can make an appointment to inspect statements by telephoning (202) 622– 0990. All statements, including attachments and other supporting materials, received are part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emanuel Pleitez, Designated Federal Officer, President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Office of the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Department of the Treasury, Main Department Building, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220, at (202) 622– 2610. In accordance with Section 10(a) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. II, § 10(a), and the regulations thereunder, Emanuel Pleitez, Designated Federal Officer of the Advisory Board, has ordered publication of this notice that the PERAB will convene its next meeting on November 2, 2009, in the White House Roosevelt Room, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The meeting will be broadcast on the Internet via live webcast at https:// www.whitehouse.gov/live. The purpose of this meeting is to continue discussion of the issues impacting the strength and competitiveness of the Nation’s economy. The discussion will include an update on the research and preparatory work conducted in the PERAB subcommittees. The PERAB will provide information and ideas obtained from across the country to promote the growth of the American economy, establish a stable and sound financial and banking system, create jobs, and improve the long-term prosperity of the American people. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 199 (Friday, October 16, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53321-53323]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-24927]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Safety Advisory 2009-02

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Safety Advisory 2009-02; Inspection of Bottom Outlet 
Valves and Assemblies.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2009-02 to ensure that tank 
cars with defective or inoperable bottom outlet valves are not loaded 
with hazardous materials and offered for transportation, or in the 
event that a bottom outlet valve becomes inoperable en route, adequate 
unloading procedures are followed to prevent any unintended release of 
the car's contents. This safety advisory recommends specific loading 
and unloading procedures for hazardous materials tank cars equipped 
with bottom outlet valves, as well as the inspection, and as necessary, 
the repair of these valves.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Albert R. Taber or Erich P. Rudolph, 
Railroad Safety Specialists, Hazardous Materials Division, FRA Office 
of Safety Assurance and Compliance, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 
Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 493-6254, e-mail: 
Albert.Taber@dot.gov; or telephone (202) 493-6248, e-mail: 
Erich.Rudolph@dot.gov).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    By way of the one-time movement approval process (Title 49 Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR) 174.50), FRA has documented approximately 390 
service equipment failures of bottom outlet valves since 2004. One 
hundred and eight of these failures occurred in calendar year 2008 
alone, and to date in 2009, approximately 110 failures have already 
occurred. FRA believes that these documented failures do not reflect 
the entire population of bottom outlet failures that occur each year, 
as many may go unreported.
    As exemplified by documented incidents of bottom outlet failures, a 
defective or inoperable bottom outlet valve may lead to the unintended 
release of a tank car's contents during the unloading process. As an 
example, on October 28, 2004, at Techsol Chemical Company, in 
Huntington, WV, more than 22,000 gallons of a Class 3 hazardous 
material was released during the unloading of a tank car equipped with 
a bottom outlet valve. The release was determined to be the result of a 
bottom outlet valve clogged with sludge, and an unloading procedure 
that failed to detect the inoperative valve. On May 31, 2008, 
approximately 170,000 lbs of a Class 9 elevated temperature material 
was released during the unloading of a tank car equipped with a bottom 
outlet valve. The elevated temperature material had been heated to 
approximately 280 [deg]F for unloading and although the individual 
unloading the car reportedly observed the bottom outlet valve handle 
secured and in the closed position, as that individual removed the 
bottom outlet cap, hot steamed resin was released from the bottom 
outlet, splashing the unloader. The resin released at a rate of 
approximately 160 gallons per minute and the unloader suffered first- 
and second-degree burns from contact with the material. The release was 
determined to be the result of a bent bottom outlet valve handle, which 
allowed the internal valve to be in the open position, and unloading 
procedures that failed to detect the inoperative valve. More recently, 
on May 13, 2009, approximately 23,500 gallons of hot asphalt, a Class 9 
hazardous material, was released during the unloading of a tank car 
equipped with a bottom outlet valve. In this case, because the valve 
operating handle was improperly applied to the valve assembly, the 
handle appeared to be in the closed position, but the internal valve 
was actually in the open position. Accordingly, this release was 
determined to be the result of the improperly applied valve handle, and 
loading and unloading procedures that failed to detect the improperly 
assembled valve.
    FRA believes that the occurrence of bottom outlet valve failures 
could be significantly reduced by (1) ensuring that certain procedures 
are followed during the tank car loading and unloading process, and (2) 
ensuring that a proper preliminary examination of the valve assembly is 
performed after a tank car is cleaned and purged, and before the car is 
loaded and offered for transportation.
    FRA's recommendations in this safety advisory take into 
consideration the typical operational steps involved in loading/
unloading tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves, regardless of 
whether the valve is ``top-operated'' or controlled by a valve-mounted 
handle (``bottom-operated''). Generally, the bottom outlet cap or plug 
should not be removed from a tank car's bottom outlet discharge nozzle 
until it is ascertained that the bottom outlet valve is actually closed 
and functioning properly. In accordance with Appendix E of the 
Association of American Railroads' (AAR) Tank Car Committee Tank Car 
Manual,\1\ tank car bottom outlet caps and plugs are designed to 
provide tell-tale warnings upon loosening if a bottom outlet valve is 
not functioning properly. Accordingly, the design of bottom outlet 
discharge nozzles and closures allows any product that has accumulated 
between the bottom outlet operating valves and the bottom outlet 
closure cap or plug (i.e., in the outlet chamber) to drain in a safe 
and controlled manner. Once it is determined, by using the relationship 
of the handle to the valve as an indicator, that the bottom outlet 
valve is in the closed position, a person unloading a tank car should 
loosen the bottom outlet cap a few turns, leaving sufficient threads 
engaged, and allowing the passage of sufficient time to permit the 
controlled seepage of any liquid accumulated in the outlet chamber. If 
a tank car is equipped with an auxiliary

[[Page 53322]]

valve below the primary bottom outlet valve, that auxiliary valve 
should be in the open position, with its cap/plug removed, allowing an 
unloader to determine whether the primary valve is functioning 
properly. Once this accumulated product has drained out around the 
closure, the leakage should stop. This is an indication that the bottom 
outlet valve is functioning properly and that it is safe for the 
unloader to proceed with removing the bottom outlet cap or plug (a 
properly functioning bottom outlet valve in the closed position will 
contain the contents of the car on its own).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ AAR, Operations and Maintenance Department, Mechanical 
Division, ``Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices Section C 
Part III-Specifications for Tank Cars M-1002'' (revised annually).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If, however, leakage continues upon the loosening of a bottom 
outlet cap or plug, or there is an excessive amount of product 
drainage, this is an indication that the primary bottom outlet valve is 
not functioning properly (e.g., the valve may be defective, debris may 
be clogging the valve seat area and/or assembly components, or the 
valve is otherwise failing to function properly). Accordingly, the 
bottom outlet valve cap or plug should not be completely removed. 
Instead, the cap or plug should be secured and the tank should be 
unloaded from the fittings on top of the car. Unless FRA has granted a 
movement approval pursuant to 49 CFR 174.50, tank cars identified with 
bottom outlet valves not functioning properly cannot be offered into 
transportation in compliance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations 
(HMR) (49 CFR Parts 171-180).
    The proper functioning of the bottom outlet valve is critical 
during the unloading of hazardous materials tank cars. Prior to June 1, 
2005, the tank car unloading requirements of Part 174 of the HMR 
applied to all hazardous material tank car unloading operations. These 
requirements were set forth in Section 174.67 of the HMR and included 
certain procedural requirements. Specifically, Section 174.67(g) 
required that during tank car unloading operations, if leakage was 
apparent upon starting the removal of a tank's bottom outlet cap, the 
cap may not be entirely unscrewed. Instead, Section 174.67(g) required 
that ``[s]ufficient threads * * * be left engaged and sufficient time 
allowed to permit controlled escape of any accumulation of liquid in 
the outlet chamber.'' Only if the leakage stopped or the rate of 
leakage diminished materially, could the bottom outlet cap be entirely 
removed in accordance with Section 174.67(g). That section further 
provided that ``[i]f the initial rate of leakage continues, further 
efforts must be made to seat the outlet valve * * *. If this fails, the 
[bottom outlet cap] must be screwed up tight and the tank must be 
unloaded through the dome.''
    On April 15, 2005, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule, which modified the HMR's 
applicability to certain tank car unloading processes. See 72 FR 20018. 
The end result of this final rule was that the requirements of Section 
174.67 related to the protection of train and engine crews operating 
within a shipper or consignee facility were consolidated in Part 173 of 
the HMR, and the remaining procedural requirements of Section 174.67, 
including paragraph (g), became applicable only to transloading 
operations (i.e., the transfer of a hazardous material from one 
packaging to another for the purpose of continuing transportation in 
commerce). Although the HMR currently only explicitly requires that the 
procedures of Section 174.67(g) be followed during transloading 
operations, FRA recommends that persons responsible for unloading 
hazardous materials tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves follow 
these procedures in all tank car unloading operations in order to 
detect an inoperable or defective bottom outlet valve, which could lead 
to an unintended release of a car's contents during the unloading 
process.
    The proper functioning of the bottom outlet valve is also critical 
during the loading of railroad hazardous materials tank cars. Prior to 
July 1, 1996, the HMR specifically required that ``[t]anks with bottom 
discharge outlets must have their outlet caps off, or outlet cap plugs 
open, during the entire time tanks are being loaded.'' See 49 CFR 
173.31(b) (1994). That same section of the HMR also prohibited tanks 
with bottom outlet valves which, after loading, permitted more than a 
dropping of the liquid contents of the tank with the outlet caps off, 
or the outlet cap plugs open, from being offered for transportation 
until proper repairs had been made. On September 21, 1995, the Research 
and Special Program Administration (RSPA), now known as PHMSA, 
published a final rule, developed jointly with FRA, that ``revised and 
reorganized for clarity'' 49 CFR 173.31, which addressed the 
qualification, maintenance, and use of tank cars. See 68 FR 49048, 
49067 (effective July 1, 1996). RSPA's stated intent in revising and 
reorganizing 49 CFR 173.31 was to ``align[ ] the inspection 
requirements in * * * 173.31(b) with the design and operations 
requirements'' generally applicable for packagings and packages in 49 
CFR 173.24. Id. at 49064. RSPA intended the revision to ``clarify [the 
inspection requirements'] full intent, foster compliance with safety 
standards, and improve hazardous materials transportation safety.'' Id. 
The rule was not intended to substantively modify the previous 
requirements of 49 CFR 173.31(b).
    Although explicit language no longer appears in the HMR requiring 
bottom outlet caps to be off or outlet cap plugs to be open during the 
loading process, or prohibiting loaded tank cars, with more than a 
dropping of liquid with their outlet caps off or outlet cap plugs open, 
from being offered for transportation until repairs have been made, the 
requirements of 49 CFR 173.24 remain the same. Specifically, 49 CFR 
173.24 requires that packages used for the transportation of hazardous 
materials be ``designed, constructed, maintained, filled, * * * 
contents so limited, and closed, so that under conditions normally 
incident to transportation * * * there will be no identifiable release 
of hazardous materials to the environment.'' Accordingly, FRA 
recommends that persons responsible for loading tank cars equipped with 
bottom outlet valves follow the inspection and operational procedures 
recommended below in order to detect an inoperable or defective bottom 
outlet valve, which could lead to an unintended release of the car's 
contents during transportation or during the process of loading or 
unloading the car.
    FRA reminds those responsible for loading and unloading railroad 
tank cars that the United States Department of Labor Occupational 
Safety and Health Administration's rule regarding process safety 
management of highly hazardous chemicals (29 CFR 1910.119), the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency's risk management plan regulations (40 
CFR Part 68), and other standards and rules of these agencies may also 
apply to tank car loading and unloading operations in certain 
circumstances.
    Recommended Action: Based on the necessity to reduce the number and 
severity of incidences due to bottom outlet valve failures and to 
enhance the public's confidence in the safety of hazardous materials 
transportation by rail, FRA makes the following recommendations:

1. Loading a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With a Bottom Outlet Valve or 
Valves

    Persons responsible for loading a tank car equipped with a bottom 
outlet valve or valves should:
    2. operate the bottom-outlet valve handle(s) to verify proper 
operation. Once proper operation has been

[[Page 53323]]

verified, the valve(s) should be closed and secured, as appropriate.
    3. ensure that the tank has its bottom outlet cap off, or outlet 
plug open, during the entire time the tank is being loaded.
    4. ensure that bottom outlet auxiliary valve(s) (if a tank car is 
so equipped) is open during the entire time the tank is being loaded.
    5. ensure that after loading, a tank with a bottom outlet valve 
that permits more than a dropping of the liquid contents of the car 
with the outlet cap off, or the outlet cap plug open, is not offered 
for transportation until proper repairs have been made.

2. Unloading a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With a Bottom Outlet Valve or 
Valves

    Persons responsible for unloading a tank car equipped with a bottom 
outlet valve or valves should:
    6. confirm that the bottom outlet valve is closed before loosening 
the bottom outlet cap or plug. If it cannot be confirmed that the 
bottom outlet valve is closed, the valve cap or plug should not be 
removed. Instead, the tank car should be unloaded through the fittings 
on top of the car, and corrective action taken to repair the bottom 
outlet valve.
    7. ensure that during the unloading process, if leakage shows upon 
starting the removal of the bottom outlet cap or plug, the cap or plug 
should not be entirely unscrewed. Sufficient threads should be left 
engaged and sufficient time allowed to permit controlled escape of any 
accumulation of liquid in the outlet chamber. If the leakage stops, the 
cap or plug may be entirely removed. If leakage continues, further 
efforts must be made to seat the outlet valve. If this fails, the cap 
must be screwed up tight (or the plug secured), the tank must be 
unloaded through the fittings on top of the car, and corrective action 
must be taken to repair the bottom outlet valve.

3. Cleaning and Purging of a Railroad Tank Car Equipped With Bottom 
Outlet Valves

    Persons responsible for the cleaning and purging of tank cars 
equipped with bottom outlet valves, should ensure that after the 
cleaning and purging process is complete, the bottom outlet valves and 
valve assemblies are examined for debris or obstructions prior to 
releasing the cars for further transportation.

Sources for Additional Information

    Questions concerning the operation and maintenance of bottom outlet 
valves should be referred to the car owner for special instructions to 
ensure continued reliability of the bottom outlet valve. For specific 
literature on loading/unloading tank cars, refer to the AAR's Pamphlet 
No. 34 titled, ``Recommended Methods for the Safe Loading and Unloading 
of Non-Pressure Tank Cars.''
    For purposes of this safety advisory, FRA seeks cooperation from 
the entities who are responsible for determining that tank cars are in 
proper condition and safe for transportation. FRA will continue to 
monitor the status of tank cars equipped with bottom outlet valves in 
hazardous materials transportation and will take any necessary 
regulatory or enforcement action to ensure the highest level of safety 
on the Nation's railroads.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on October 9, 2009.
Jo Strang,
Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer.
[FR Doc. E9-24927 Filed 10-15-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P