USDOT Issues Rule Authorizing Bulk Transport of LNG by Rail

Written by Andrew Corselli
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Photo courtesy TrinityRail

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued on June 19 a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail.

Specifically, the rule will permit the bulk transportation of LNG in DOT-113C120W9 (DOT-113) specification tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements and additional operational controls. The publication complies with Executive Order 13868 (EO 13868), “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth,” issued in April 2019.

“With FRA approval, LNG has previously been authorized for transport by rail in a portable tank,” DOT noted. “Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations have also authorized the transportation of other flammable cryogenic materials for many years in DOT-113 tank cars. Importantly, this final rule also incorporates newly designated additional safety requirements, such as an enhanced thicker carbon steel outer tank.”

The rule also requires remote monitoring of the pressure and location of LNG tank cars. In addition, “to improve braking,” the rule requires a two-way EOT (end-of-train) device or DP (distributed power) system when a train is transporting 20 or more tank cars loaded with LNG in a continuous block, or 35 or more such tank cars of LNG anywhere in the train consist. Furthermore, the rule requires railroads to conduct route risk assessments to evaluate safety and security.

“EO 13868 recognized the growth of energy production in the U.S., coupled with an increased global demand for U.S. natural gas,” DOT said. “The rule prescribes regulations that reflect best practices and best-available technologies, sets increased regulatory certainty and provides policies that promote America’s natural resources.”

“Given growing demand for natural gas both here in the U.S. and overseas, it is important to have clear federal regulations in place allowing for LNG’s shipment by rail, which provides one of the safest and most versatile means of transporting hazardous materials anywhere in the country, said Railway Supply Institute (RSI) President Mike O’Malley. “Federal hazardous materials regulations have for many years allowed the safe and efficient transport of cryogenic materials in DOT-113 tank cars and we commend the U.S. Department of Transportation for following that precedent in authorizing the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113 tank cars.

“RSI’s Committee on Tank Cars appreciates the opportunity to provide input on this rule and will continue its work advancing the safe and efficient movement of hazardous materials by tank car.”

The final rule as submitted to the Federal Register can be read here.

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