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Monday, July 15th, 2024

PHMSA sets new requirements for freight railroad hazmat disclosures

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In a bid to improve rail safety and support first responders, the Biden administration’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced a final rule this week that would require railroads to proactively provide first responders with real-time details of hazmat shipments.

Those details would go to the primary Public Safety Answering Point (such as 9-1-1) as soon as the railroad was made aware of an accident or incident involving hazardous materials on its line. All railroads would need to create hard copy and electronic versions of real-time train information for shipments containing hazardous materials, including the quantity and position of the hazardous materials on a train, the train’s origin and destination, emergency response information and a designated emergency point of contact at the railroad.

“In a hazmat incident, firefighters and first responders arriving on scene need to know what kind of hazardous materials are present so they can protect themselves and their communities,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to make our rails safer, this final rule will require railroads to maintain detailed, real-time information about trains carrying hazardous materials – and share this information with local emergency responders when they need it.”

Firefighters will be able to use PHMSA’s 2024 Emergency Response Guidebook without issue as a result, as a guideline for how to respond to each type of hazmat incident. This followed more than $2 billion the Department of Transportation (DOT) has provided since passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021 for rail safety infrastructure investments.