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DOT-105 rail tank car safety the focus of 5 NTSB safety recommendations

(Source: National Transportation Safety Board press release, February 14, 2019)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board issued five safety recommendations Thursday following completion of its investigation of the Aug. 27, 2016, chlorine release from a ruptured rail tank car near New Martinsville, West Virginia.

There were eight injuries reported in connection with the accident in which 178,400 pounds of liquefied compressed chlorine was released in the course of two and a half hours after a DOT-105 rail tank car sustained a 42-inch long crack in its tank shell shortly after being loaded at the Axiall Corporation Natrium plant.

As a result of the NTSB’s investigation the agency issued five new safety recommendations, three of which were issued to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and one each to the Association of American Railroads and American Railcar Industries, Inc.

The NTSB also reclassified safety recommendation R-04-7 – issued to the Federal Railroad Administration – from “Open – Acceptable Response” to “Closed – Acceptable Action/Superseded” by safety recommendation R-19-001, which is one of the three issued to PHMSA Thursday.

The recommendations issued to PHMSA call for:

• Promulgation of a final standard that includes enhanced fracture toughness requirements for tank heads and shells for pressure tank cars used to transport poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials
• Prohibiting use of tank cars transporting poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials that are constructed of nonnormalized steels and are not constructed of steels meeting the highest available fracture toughness specifications.
• Maintenance guidance for owners of DOT-105 pressure tank cars transporting poison inhalation hazard/toxic inhalation hazard materials to establish structural integrity inspection frequency, define critical flaw size, repair and acceptance criteria for fracture-sensitive locations and nondestructive testing methods to detect and identify cracks.

The NTSB wants the Association of American Railroads to ensure local post-weld heat treatment processes are sufficiently monitored to avoid damage to tank car materials. Inspection and maintenance procedures to address cracks in cradle pad weld attachments is the focus of the NTSB’s recommendation to the American Railcar Industries, Inc.

The full accident report is available at https://go.usa.gov/xEUju and the public docket for the investigation is available at https://go.usa.gov/xEUDc.

Friday, February 15, 2019

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