Wetlines update from NTTC (National Tank Truck Carriers)

This article is from the National Truck Tank Carriers. www.tanktruck.org

Cargo Tank Wetlines: The Saga Continues . . .

Overview

In recent public comments at the COSTHA quarterly meeting on Wednesday, January 15th, two representatives of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) addressed the ongoing wetlines matter.  Mr. Charles Betts, PHMSA’s Director of Standards and Rulemaking Division and Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie, Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety, informed the crowd in attendance that PHMSA still intends to pursue a wetlines final rule in the fall of 2014.  In other words, despite the damning findings of the recent GAO report, the agency is still trying to breathe life back into the thrice-beaten Zombie of wetlines.

The NTTC will continue to work closely with its many association partners on this issue through our strategic relationships within the hazmat community here in Washington.  In its recent legislative update, the ATA’s hazmat committee adopted the following language for inclusion in its advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill:

CARGO TANK WETLINES [free standing provision]

According to PHMSA’s wetlines analysis - between 1999 and 2009 - there have been 8 incidents that have resulted in a fatality or injury that may be attributable to wetlines releases.  By contrast, more than 100,000 cargo tank shipments of flammable liquids occur each day.  These government statistics indicate that the risk of a fatal wetlines incident is approximately 1 in 45,600,000.  Notwithstanding this incredibly low incident rate, PHMSA refuses to withdraw a proposed wetlines regulation (76 FR 4847) that a Congressionally-mandated Government Accountability Office study found lacking objective data and failing any cost-benefit analysis.  Congress should require PHMSA to withdraw this regulation.

The NTTC strongly shares this legislative priority with the ATA.  We have also endorsed similar language found in the legislative priorities of the Interested Parties group (IP).  The NTTC is an active member of this group of hazmat associations here in Washington that meets monthly and works together on hazmat issues that impact our respective memberships. The IP group’s suggested language is as follows:

PHMSA has reopened the issue of wetlines safety.  This issue has been addressed in two previous rulemakings from PHMSA and was the focus of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives in the last Congress.  The rulemaking is based on faulty data and fails to address tangential risks from vehicle retrofit requirements.  Industry estimates that the retrofit requirements may increase fatalities, as performing “hot work” on cargo tanks is dangerous.  To date, DOT has failed to address industry concerns.  DOT would be precluded from issuing a final wetlines rule without additional congressional authority provided after the date of enactment of this Act.

At the most recent IP meeting on January 10th, prior to PHMSA’s disturbing public comments cited above, the NTTC had the opportunity to highlight this issue for Congressional staffers from two key House T&I subcommittees: the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee and the Highways & Transit Subcommittee.  We specifically requested their help to thwart this dangerous action by PHMSA.  Below is a brief timeline of our recent engagement on this issue with PHMSA including direct conversation with Administrator Quarterman:

Keep up to date on news at www.littlejohninc.com and www.littlejohntank.com

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