[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 78 (Thursday, April 23, 2015)]
[Pages 22781-22782]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-09436]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2015-0099, Notice No. 15-7]

Hazardous Materials: Emergency Response Information Requirements

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing this notice to remind hazardous materials 
shippers and carriers of their responsibility to ensure that current, 
accurate and timely emergency response information is immediately 
available to emergency response officials for shipments of hazardous 
materials, and such information is maintained on a regular basis.

Specialist, Standards and Rulemaking Division, Office of Hazardous 
Materials Safety, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. 
SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-8553 or, via email: 
[email protected].


Background and Recent Incidents

    PHMSA is issuing this safety advisory notice to remind offerors, 
including re-offerors, and carriers of hazardous materials of their 
responsibilities pertaining to emergency response information. The 
Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180), 
specifically Subpart G of Part 172, prescribe requirements for detailed 
emergency response information, including, accessibility and 
communication of incident mitigation measures.
    On February 16, 2015 a CSX train carrying 109 cars of petroleum 
crude oil derailed in Mt. Carbon, WV. The accident resulted in the 
derailment of 26 tank cars, 14 of which caught fire. On March 5, 2015, 
a BNSF train carrying 103 cars of petroleum crude oil derailed in 
Galena, Il. Of the 21 cars derailed involved in the incident, five 
caught fire. While the Department is still investigating the 
circumstances of these incidents, they serve as a reminder that 
accurate and accessible emergency response information can be a 
critical component for an adequate emergency response effort.


    On June 27, 1989, the Research and Special Programs Administration 
(RSPA; the predecessor to PHMSA) published a final rule in the Federal 
Register that codified requirements to provide certain emergency 
response information on hazardous materials during their 
transportation. The final rule emphasized the importance for carriers 
and first responders to have first-hand, up-to-date, technical and 
emergency response information for hazardous materials to minimize the 
consequences and protect property and life where possible in the event 
of emergency incidents. This rulemaking action was issued as a result 
of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 
of an accident which occurred near Odessa, Delaware in October 1982. 
Following the investigation, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation I-
83-2, which among other provisions, recommended that RSPA, ``Determine 
by mode of transportation the feasibility of requiring comprehensive 
product-specific emergency response information, such as Material 
Safety Data Sheets, to be appended to shipping documents for hazardous 
materials.'' \1\ The requirements issued in the final rule were 
``intended to provide specific information relative to the hazards of 
the materials being transported and provide immediate initial emergency 
response guidance until further specific information can be obtained 
from the shipper or others relative to long-term mitigation actions.'' 

    \1\ http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/I83_2.pdf.
    \2\ 54 FR 27142 (HM-126C).

Current Requirements

    With limited exceptions, the HMR require shipments of hazardous 
materials to be accompanied by shipping papers and other documentation 
designed to communicate to transport workers and emergency responders 
the hazards associated with a specific shipment. This information must 
include the immediate hazard to health; risks of fire or explosion; 
immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident; 
immediate methods for handling fires; initial methods for handling 
spills or leaks in the absence of fire; and preliminary first aid 
measures. The information must be in writing, in English, and presented 
on a shipping paper or related shipping document. The offeror of a 
hazardous material is responsible for ensuring the emergency response 
information is current, correct, and accurate. Re-offerors are 
permitted to rely on previous data provided they take no intermediate 
action, such as blending or mixing the material.
    A delay or improper response due to a lack of accurate or timely 
emergency response information may place emergency response personnel, 
transportation workers, and the general public or the environment at 
increased risk. Expeditious identification of the hazards and proper 
instructions for appropriate handling and clean up associated with 
specific hazardous materials is critical to quickly mitigating the 
consequences of unintended releases of hazardous materials and other 
    Section 172.600(b) of the HMR requires persons who offer for 
transportation, accept for transportation, transfer, or otherwise 
handle hazardous materials during transportation to provide emergency 
response information including an emergency response telephone number. 
Therefore, the responsibility to provide emergency response information 
is not solely that of an offeror. This responsibility is shared by 
those who offer, accept, transfer, or otherwise handle hazardous 
materials during transportation and must be completed prior to offering 
hazardous materials into transportation. A current safety data sheet 
(SDS) that includes accurate emergency response

[[Page 22782]]

information for the product being shipped, although not required, is 
one form of information that may be used to satisfy the emergency 
response information requirements.
    Section 172.602(a)(1) requires that the emergency response 
information contain the basic description and technical name of the 
hazardous material as required by Sec. Sec.  172.202 and 172.203(k). 
Section 172.602(b)(3) requires that the emergency response information 
be presented (i) on a shipping paper; (ii) in a document, other than a 
shipping paper, that includes both the basic description and technical 
name of the hazardous material (e.g. safety data sheet); or (iii) 
related to the information on a shipping paper, in a separate document 
(e.g., an emergency response guidance document such as the most current 
revision of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)), in a manner that 
cross references the description of the hazardous material on the 
shipping paper with the emergency response information contained in the 
document. If a guide number page from the ERG is used, it must include 
the basic description and, if applicable, the technical name of the 
hazardous material. If the entire ERG is present, however, the 
requirements of Sec.  172.602 are satisfied.
    Emergency response information must also be immediately available 
for use. Section 172.600(c) requires any person who offers, accepts, 
transfers or otherwise handles hazardous materials during 
transportation not do so unless emergency response information is 
immediately available for use at all times the hazardous material is 
present. Additionally, emergency response information, including the 
emergency response telephone number, must be immediately available to 
any person who, as a representative of a Federal, State or local 
government agency, responds to an incident involving a hazardous 
material, or is conducting an investigation which involves a hazardous 
material. Section 172.602(c) prescribes the maintenance of emergency 
response information. This information must be immediately accessible 
to train crew personnel, drivers of motor vehicles, flight crew 
members, and bridge personnel on vessels for use in the event of 
incidents involving hazardous materials. Carriers must maintain 
emergency response information in the same manner as prescribed for 
shipping papers (Subpart C of Part 172 of the HMR).
    Emergency response information must be accompanied by an emergency 
response telephone number in accordance with Sec.  172.604. This 
telephone number must be monitored at all times the hazardous material 
is in transportation, including storage incidental to transportation. 
The telephone number must be of a person who is either knowledgeable of 
the hazardous material being shipped and has comprehensive emergency 
response and incident mitigation information for that material, or has 
immediate access to a person who possess such knowledge and 

NTSB Safety Recommendation R-14-18

    As a result of the November 30, 2012 accident in which a 
Consolidated Rail Corporation train containing hazardous materials 
derailed, spilling vinyl chloride into Mantua Creek in Paulsboro, New 
Jersey, the NTSB issued a number of new Safety Recommendations. Among 
the recommendations issued to PHMSA was R-14-18, which urged PHMSA to 
``take action to ensure that emergency response information carried by 
train crews is consistent with and is at least as protective as 
existing emergency response guidance provided in the Emergency Response 
Guidebook.'' \3\ We are considering possible alternatives, including 
regulatory action, to affect this recommendation.

    \3\ http://phmsa.dot.gov/pv_obj_cache/pv_obj_id_F69209B2F102C36FDEBED674D65AC72854380300/filename/NTSB_R-14-18_to-21_(8-22-14).pdf.


    Emergency response information is a critical component of hazardous 
materials safety. The responsibility to provide accurate and timely 
information is a shared responsibility for all persons involved in the 
transportation of hazardous materials. It is a shipper's responsibility 
to provide accurate emergency response information that is consistent 
with both the information provided on a shipping paper and the material 
being transported. Likewise, re-offerors of hazardous materials must 
ensure that this information can be verified to be accurate, 
particularly if the material is altered, mixed or otherwise repackaged 
prior to being placed back into transportation. In addition, carriers 
must ensure that emergency response information is maintained 
appropriately, is accessible and can be communicated immediately in the 
event of a hazardous materials incident. Fulfilling these 
responsibilities is critical in reducing the severity of a hazardous 
materials incident and reduces the risk to emergency response 
personnel, transportation workers, and the general public.

    Issued in Washington, DC on April 17, 2015.
Timothy P. Butters,
Acting Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
[FR Doc. 2015-09436 Filed 4-22-15; 8:45 am]