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Final Rule Alert: LNG Allowed in Rail Transport

Posted on July 24, 2020 by Roger Marks

Update 07/24/2020: DOT PHMSA's Final Rule to allow bulk transport of liquified natural gas or LNG (UN 1972) by rail appeared in the Federal Register on July 24, 2020.

The rule authorizes rail transport of LNG in bulk quantities in DOT-113C120W specification rail tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements. 

Read the Final Rule or scroll down for details about the rulemaking.  
 
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a proposed rule that would permit the transport of Methane, refrigerated liquid by rail in certain DOT specification 113 rail tank cars. “Methane, refrigerated liquid” is more commonly known as liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

A Division 2.1 hazardous material, “Methane, refrigerated liquid” (UN 1972) is currently shipped by highway and vessel in the US. The 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) do not authorize the bulk transport of LNG by rail. 

Read the proposed rule in the October 24, 2019 Federal Register.

The proposed rule would:
  • Update the 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) entry for UN 1972 to add a reference to the cryogenic liquids in (rail) tank cars packaging section;
  • Amend 49 CFR 173.319(d)(2)—Cryogenic liquids in tank cars—to authorize the transport of Methane, refrigerated liquid (LNG); and
  • Amend the Pressure Control Valve Setting or Relief Valve Setting Table to specify settings for methane in DOT—113C120W tank cars.
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Why Allow LNG by Rail Now?

In the proposal, PHMSA notes that the number of LNG facilities in the US have increased by nearly 30% since 2010. Total storage and vaporization capacities have increased as well. Annual report data shows that new LNG export terminals provide the capacity to liquefy nine times more natural gas today than in 2010.

US exports of LNG have skyrocketed in the past five years, from 3 billion cubic feet in 2013 to more than 1,000 billion cubic feet in 2018.  

With more natural gas in production, PHMSA believes that demand may exist for more flexibility in available transportation options. The proposed rule is, in part, a response to a petition for rulemaking from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and special permit requests related to shipping LNG by rail.

PHMSA will accept public comments on the proposed rule until December 23, 2019. 

Brush Up on PHMSA Hazmat Rail Rules

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