After Canadian crash, rail regulators explore new hazardous materials rules

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The agency received eight petitions from the chemical, energy and railroad industries and the town of Barrington, Ill., as well as four additional recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board to change its rules for train cars carrying potentially dangerous materials. It is considering granting more authority to the Federal Railroad Administration to oversee some tank cars and impose new requirements for pressure relief valves, among other measures.

“PHMSA looks forward to reviewing the public’s comments pertaining to the potential economic, environmental, and safety implications of the petitions,” it said in the proposal.

Regulators have scrambled to analyze whether their rules on train safety need to be updated in the wake of the Canadian crash.

In August, the Federal Railroad Administration announced that railroads needed to develop outlines for specific circumstances when crews can leave their trains unattended. 

In the July crash, only one person was in charge of monitoring the train, which was parked overnight when its brakes failed.