A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) would require railroads to maintain and update real-time, accurate electronic information on hazardous materials shipped by rail.
These new requirements from DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) are aimed at improving public safety and preventing environmental impacts by providing emergency responders with vital information during a hazmat incident.
Information would be ‘pushed’ to emergency responders
Under this proposed rule, railroads would also be required to “push” information on hazmat shipments to authorized local first response personnel as soon as the railroad was made aware of an incident.
The proposed rule would require all railroads to generate, in hard copy and electronic versions, real-time train consist information for shipments containing hazardous materials.
Required information would include:
- the quantity and position of the shipment on the train
- the shipment’s origin and destination, and
- a designated emergency point of contact at the railroad.
Rule is meant to improve safety of responders, communities
“On-demand access to key information about hazmat shipments coupled with proactive information sharing will enable first responders to better prepare for the risks present at the scene of an incident before they arrive on scene,” PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown said. “This will improve safety for firefighters and first responders, and the communities they so courageously serve.”
The rule is a response to:
- congressional mandates
- National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, and
- lessons learned from firefighters responding to the February 2023 Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, OH.