Final Rule from PHMSA and FRA seeks to make preparedness and mitigation easier

A final rule requiring railroads to submit Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans (COSRPs) for route segments traveled by High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFTs) went into effect earlier this year (April 1). The rule was a product of the combined efforts of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). 

In addition to current requirements, which require railroads to establish geographic response zones staged with personnel and equipment to respond in the event of an accident, COSRPs will require railroads to identify a qualified individual responsible for each response zone. The rule further requires the railroads to ensure that resources are staged within 12 hours of any part of the applicable route. 

Additional requirement also includes: 

  • Rail carriers to provide information about HHFTs to state and tribal emergency response commissions (SERCs / TERCs) 
  • Immediate communication between the qualified individual(s) and appropriate federal officials 

Railroads must submit a COSRP within 180 days of the rule’s publication The rule likewise describes:  

  • Activities and responsibilities of railroad personnel prior to the arrival of a qualified individual; 
  • Qualified individual’s responsibilities and actions; and
  • Procedures involved in coordinating on-scene operations  

Read the original rule here (PDF)

James Rist is a Program Specialist with the IAFC.

Brandon Allen, Government Relations Manager, and Steven Ilchishin, Content & Communications Manager, contributed to this article.

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