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Safe Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas by Railroad Tank Car

December 8, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 1:30 pm EST

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A closed meeting of the National Academies’ committee on Safe Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas by Railroad Tank Car will be held December 8, 2020.

The charge of this NASEM ad hoc committee is to review plans and activities to inform government and industry decisions about the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail and consider ways to ensure the continued safety of these shipments over the longer-term. The committee’s review will be carried out in two phases, each producing a report with findings and recommendations as appropriate.

Phase 1
The committee will review ongoing and planned USDOT efforts, as documented and reported by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), that are intended to inform pending decisions about whether and how bulk shipments of LNG can be safely transported by railroad tank car. The review will focus specifically on the plans and progress of the PHMSA-FRA LNG Task Force, which has developed and begun executing a multi-task program of research, data gathering, analysis, testing, modeling, and risk assessment. Based on the expert judgment of its members, and drawing largely on the Task Force’s reports of results, ongoing and planned tasks, and other relevant information, the committee will produce a report with findings on specific tasks and the program overall with regard to quality, completeness, and relevance to the agencies’ near-term decision making needs. The committee may make recommendations in this first report that can be acted upon quickly to strengthen the program.

Phase 2
The committee will engage in information-gathering and analysis to conduct an in-depth study of topics relevant to ensuring the safe movement of LNG by rail if allowed by special permit or regulatory authorization. At a minimum, the committee will examine:

  • The experience transporting LNG in bulk shipments by other modes, including by water and truck, to identify basic principles applied for safety assurance that can inform measures taken by government and industry to ensure the safe movement of LNG by rail;
  • What is known about the effectiveness of special regulatory and industry measures intended to assure the safe transportation of other relevant bulk rail shipments of hazardous materials, especially any routing, speed, and other operational controls applied to high-hazard flammable trains and accompanying enhanced track inspection regimes; and,
  • The applicability to bulk rail transportation of LNG of current emergency response plans, protocols, and guides for responding to LNG transportation incidents, such as in PHMSA’s Emergency Response Guidebook.

In carrying out its review of these topics, the committee may determine that there are other topics directly relevant to the safe transportation of LNG by rail that warrant examination, and it may elect to do so. Based on findings from the study, the committee will issue a second report containing recommendations as appropriate to Congress, PHMSA, FRA, industry, emergency responders, and other relevant parties on actions, both nearer- and longer-term, that are warranted to improve understanding of the risks associated with transporting LNG by rail, mitigate risks, and prevent and prepare for potential incidents.



December 8, 2020
11:00 am - 1:30 pm EST
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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)
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