Source: The Fertilizer Institute

The Department of Transportation issued its final rule on interim rail tank car standards, which will be effective March 16. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) says it is pleased with DOT's announcement because it allows the continued use of the 112J340 anhydrous ammonia rail tank car and adopted TFI's recommendation that an enhanced 400 pound car or a newly constructed 500 pound tank car be permitted as alternative tank cars.

"TFI and the railroads hold a strong record of working together on transportation issues and we were pleased to see many of our comments to DOT taken into consideration," TFI President Ford B. West said. "TFI and its anhydrous ammonia shipper members support DOT's efforts for enhanced safety of tank cars, and the anhydrous ammonia industry is committed to doing its part to minimize the occurrence of accidents and to reduce the probability of a release should an accident occur."

Specifically, TFI submitted a petition to DOT in May 2008 in support of an interim rail tank car in anhydrous ammonia service. In its petition, TFI suggested the retirement of all pre-1989 non-normalized steel cars by Dec. 31, 2010; authorization for use of 112J340 ammonia cars built prior to 2001 until Dec. 31, 2021; authorization for use of 112J340 ammonia cars built after 2001 for a life of 20 years; and authorization for use of a 112J400 pound car enhanced with a thicker jacket for ammonia service beginning Jan. 1, 2009, with a 25 year life from the date of the final rule.

In issuing the interim standards, DOT stated that while it allows the continued use of 112J340 rail tank cars, its rulemaking does not set a definite timeframe for the duration of this decision. DOT notified TFI that a timeline will be addressed in future rulemaking, which will set the final performance standards for tank cars.

"This overall plan is reasonable, makes sound business sense and helps accomplish a smooth transition of the ammonia car fleet," West said.