DG Digest: Chemical Safety Board Issues Alert, EPA Settles with Harley-Davidson, and FAA OK’s Special Conditions for the Boeing 737-8

The FRA continues to focus on Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation with a new push to speed progress as well as the release of more grant funding.  A BNSF train speeds along main line track that will be part of the PTC network near Puyallup, Washington beneath Mount Rainier.  Image © 8/2016 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The FRA continues to focus on Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation with a new push to speed progress as well as the release of more grant funding. A BNSF train speeds along main line track that will be part of the PTC network near Puyallup, Washington beneath Mount Rainier. Image © 8/2016 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

Ready for another week?  Although August can be a slow month in the regulatory world as much of Washington, DC takes time to avoid the sticky heat and humidity in the nation’s capitol, this week was nevertheless quite busy.  Here’s all the latest and greatest:

Chemical Safety

The US Chemical Safety Board has issued a safety alert following its investigation of a fatal 2010 explosion and fire at a refinery in Washington State.  The CSB blames an elderly carbon-steel heat exchanger in the refining process, and recommends that similar operations and equipment be inspected for analogous potential damage as soon as possible.  See the alert here


  • In emissions news, the EPA reached a settlement with iconic American motorcycle builder Harley-Davidson under which the company agreed to stop selling and to buy back already-sold devices known as “super-tuners,” which increase performance of the bikes but in EPA’s opinion add unacceptably to emissions.  Future tuner devices will be required to comply with California level emissions limits.  Owners can contact the maker for instructions on the program.  See more here
  • EPA reached a settlement with a Texas petroleum services company which will pay over two hundred thousand dollars in fines resulting from improper hazardous waste disposal—all originating over the alleged failure to secure an EPA ID number, the unique 12-digit alphanumeric code that generators, carriers, treatment facilities, and disposal sites all must have and use to identify every step they take in the process.  Are you in a similar situation?  It can take several weeks to register, so if you need one, start sooner rather than later to avoid similar trouble.  See the settlement news here
  • EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that they claim will improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution to reduce the impacts of climate change, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation.  Will this affect you?  See the new standards here


In a newly released letter of interpretation, PHMSA clarified that 31HZ1 type IBC’s are in fact reinstated as authorized under IBC codes IB4 through IB8. Their exclusion for solids seems to remain, according to the letter.  See here


  • With the August heat in control over most of the country, OSHA issued a release reminding employers how important heat management is to protect workers and re-offered its no-cost heat management app on its web page.  OSHA takes special steps every summer to try to protect workers from heat related illness.  Get the free app here
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) is also submitting the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sponsored information collection request (ICR) revision titled, ‘‘Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses,’’ to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. Public comments on the ICR are invited until September 21stSee more about the survey here


  • In rather interesting lithium battery news, special conditions are being issued for the Boeing Company (Boeing) Model 737–8 airplane. This airplane will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. This design feature is associated with non-rechargeable lithium battery installations. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the FAA considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.  See this FAA rule here
  • In further aviation news related to lithium batteries, the government of Australia issued a fresh warning after a battery reportedly exploded in a passenger’s carry on at Sydney Airport.  Several other passengers reported feeling ill after the incident, which fortunately occurred on the ground and involved no damage to the aircraft or serious injury to anyone.  See the warning here


A status update released by the FRA underscores the need for railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) as quickly and safely as possible, according to the agency. The update also highlights the Obama  Administration’s repeated calls for Congress to provide more significant funding to assist commuter railroads in implementing PTC.  “Positive Train Control should be installed as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This is lifesaving technology available now, and railroads should continue to aggressively work to beat the deadlines Congress has put in place.”  The new status update includes railroad-by-railroad quarterly data as of June 30, 2016, on track segments completed, employees trained, radio towers installed, route miles in PTC operation and other key implementation data. In March, FRA announced that it intended to require railroads to submit quarterly reports to FRA on their progress toward completing PTC implementation. In concurrent news, FRA also announced the availability of millions more dollars in grant money to help fund this mandate.  See both items in the links below:

Status report:


Grant funding:



In potentially interesting employment news for younger military veterans, the FMCSA proposed a pilot program to allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce if they have received specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in military service and are sponsored by a participating motor carrier. During the 3-year pilot program, the safety records of these younger drivers (the study group) would be compared to the records of a control group of comparable size, comprised of drivers who are 21 years of age or older and who have comparable training and experience in driving vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL).   See the program specifics here

Transport Canada

In news from north of the border, Canada’s analog to PHMSA released a new “FAQ” page which answers what the agency believes are some of the more common recent questions regarding DG handling in the country.  See the new FAQ page here

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