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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 3 Federal Research and Hazardous Materials Transportation Research pertaining to hazardous materials transportation is conducted by industry as well as by government at the federal, state, and local levels. The focus of this chapter is on characterizing the research sponsored and performed by federal agencies. As described in the preceding chapter, responsibility for ensuring the safe, secure, and efficient transportation of hazardous materials resides in a number of federal agencies. While the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has the chief responsibility for implementing federal laws governing hazardous materials transportation, many other federal agencies have related responsibilities. All perform research, to varying degrees, in support of their responsibilities. Any research that leads to improvements in the safety, security, and efficiency of the nation’s transportation system or in the overall performance of related areas such as emergency response is likely to confer benefits on hazardous materials transportation. Research that leads to highway designs and operations that are more compatible with large trucks, for example, can be expected to reduce the incidence and severity of accidents involving trucks moving hazardous materials. Likewise, research that leads to fewer derailments can be expected to reduce the number of accidents involving tank cars and other rail cars containing hazardous materials. While the focus of this chapter is on describing federal research specific to hazardous materials transportation, research in many areas outside the traditional bounds of hazardous materials can affect hazardous materials safety, security, and efficiency. The hazardous materials research programs of four federal agencies— RSPA, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 (USCG)—are described in the most detail in this chapter. These four agencies have the most immediate and direct responsibility for federal regulation and oversight of hazardous materials transportation. Research by nearly a dozen other federal agencies is reviewed briefly. Though much of it is peripheral to hazardous materials, some of the research undertaken by these agencies bears on specific kinds of hazardous shipments, such as the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) research in support of the safe and secure transportation of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. In some cases, an agency’s current R&D on hazardous materials may not be indicative of longer-term activity. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may become a major sponsor of research on hazardous materials security. Much of the information presented in this chapter was gained from budget, program, and project descriptions available on federal agency websites. One particularly important source of information was DOT’s most recent Research, Development, and Technology Plan (DOT 2004). The review reveals a modest amount of federal research pertaining to hazardous materials transportation, with no major sponsor. The emphasis of the research is on meeting the regulatory and programmatic needs of individual agencies in performing their respective missions. There is little ongoing research to address problems and needs that cut across agency missions. RESEARCH AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS ADMINISTRATION RSPA is DOT’s multimodal research, safety, and transportation systems agency. It addresses intermodal and multimodal issues. Responsibility for regulating the safe transportation of hazardous materials by all modes (Office of Hazardous Materials Safety) and for ensuring the safety of pipelines (Office of Pipeline Safety) is under RSPA’s purview. The agency also plans and coordinates federal involvement in the provision of transportation services during emergencies (Office of Emergency Transportation) and oversees the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. RSPA’s research budget totaled approximately $14 million in FY 2004. The research program supports the agency’s core responsibilities in promoting transportation innovation, research, and education; regulating
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 pipeline safety; coordinating emergency transportation services; and regulating hazardous materials transportation safety. Spending on pipeline safety R&D accounts for about half of this research budget, and about 10 percent of the total goes to hazardous materials research. Pipeline Safety The Office of Pipeline Safety is the lead federal agency responsible for promoting and regulating pipeline safety. It conducts and supports research to further regulatory and enforcement activities and to provide the technical and analytical foundation necessary for planning, evaluating, and implementing the federal pipeline safety program. Ongoing and planned research activities include projects in the following areas: Damage prevention and leak detection, to evaluate new technologies and processes aimed at preventing third-party damage to pipelines, detecting pipeline defects and leaks, and controlling loss of product; Improved materials and construction processes that better withstand third-party damage, corrosion, and cracking and that facilitate pipeline operations at higher design pressures; and Mapping and information systems to track the location of pipelines in relation to human populations, environmentally sensitive areas, water, and other vital resources and to distribute this information to pipeline operators and public officials in a secure manner. Emergency Transportation DOT has delegated to RSPA’s Office of Emergency Transportation the responsibility for directing and managing the transportation of federal, state, and local resources to disaster sites in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ongoing and planned projects in support of this mission include research to improve software and hardware devices that can be deployed in an emergency to track and coordinate transportation resources. The Office of Emergency Transportation also works with DOT’s Office of Intelligence and Security and the individual modal agencies in identifying threats to the transportation system’s physical and information infrastructure and possible countermeasures.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 Hazardous Materials Safety The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety has two main research-related programs: (a) the Research and Analysis Program, which provides data and analytical support for the office’s regulatory and enforcement functions, and (b) the Research and Development Program, which is intended to build a stronger technical foundation for these functions and to support the development of emergency response guidance. Together, these two programs spend about $1 million per year in the following areas: Hazard classification and risk assessment: In support of specific rule-making initiatives, RSPA typically sponsors research to analyze the risks associated with individual hazardous materials transported in particular types of packaging. These are typically small projects (less than $100,000) with a narrow focus. Occasionally, however, the agency sponsors broader-based research on risk assessment from a multimodal perspective. Recent examples include a national risk assessment of poison gases and the development of a risk management self-evaluation framework that includes safety and security considerations. In addition, each year RSPA contributes about $100,000 to support research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop acute exposure guidance levels for hazardous substances. Incident analyses: RSPA is required by Congress to collect and report information on the safety of hazardous materials in transportation. The safety data are used to assess the need for new and revised federal regulations. RSPA therefore sponsors research to maintain and improve its incident data and analysis capabilities. During the past few years, it has conducted research to improve the layout of the DOT Incident Report Form, determine the accuracy of incident cost estimates in its safety database, and incorporate more information on carrier and shipper characteristics in the database. Packaging requirements and exemptions: In support of its role in setting hazardous materials packaging requirements, RSPA conducts research on kinds of packaging and their components, including their design, manufacture, and reconditioning. One example is a project evaluating the use of random frequencies in the vibration test for containers made of composite material. Another is an investigation of the risks and benefits of the use of pressure relief devices on compressed
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 gas cylinders. RSPA is regularly petitioned by shippers and container manufacturers to exempt packaging from requirements. The agency undertakes technical analyses in support of the exemption decisions. Emergency response: In supporting the Emergency Response Guidebook and the development of other emergency response guidance, RSPA conducts research and provides funding in support of the work of other organizations. For example, it provided Argonne National Laboratory with $75,000 to update the isolation distances recommended in the Guidebook. In 2003, a major part of the agency’s research budget was earmarked by Congress to support the work of the Operation Respond Institute, a public–private program aimed at providing software tools and training to the emergency response community for dealing with hazardous materials incidents. Security RSPA has increased its funding of research to assess the security of hazardous materials transportation. It has funded projects by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to assess the vulnerabilities of hazardous materials transportation to terrorist attacks. The agency has participated with other DOT agencies, including FMCSA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), in overseeing (though not funding) operational tests of various technologies and procedures for protecting hazardous cargoes from terrorism. The tests, which are being conducted in cooperation with industry, involve about 100 trucks equipped with a variety of technologies such as driver verification systems, vehicle tracking, off-route vehicle alerts, cargo tampering alerts and electronic seals, and remote vehicle disabling. Special Studies In addition to contributing funds to this study of the concept of a hazardous materials transportation cooperative research program, RSPA is sponsoring another National Academies study of issues associated with the transportation of spent nuclear fuel to a national repository. Other examples of special studies by RSPA include the Volpe Center’s examination of the safety and security issues associated with the transportation of hydrogen for fuel.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION FRA promulgates and enforces railroad safety regulations. It also administers financial assistance to railroads, including Amtrak, and promotes certain policy goals such as the advancement of high-speed rail for passenger travel. In support of these responsibilities, FRA conducts R&D aimed at improving the safety and, to some extent, financial performance of the nation’s freight, intercity passenger, and commuter railroads. The safe movement of hazardous cargo by rail is one of the agency’s main safety priorities, since railroads are major carriers of this cargo. Of course, most research that leads to improvements in the safety of the railroad environment and operations will make the movement of hazardous materials by rail safer. In FY 2004, FRA spent about $34 million on R&D in total. The program consists of several elements: human factors, rolling stock and components, track and structures, track–train interaction, train control, highway–railroad grade crossings, hazardous materials transportation, safety of train occupants, and railroad system safety and security. FRA also manages the Next Generation High-Speed Rail and Maglev Programs, which demonstrate technologies aimed at fostering the deployment of high-speed passenger service. The Transportation Technology Center, located in Pueblo, Colorado, is owned by FRA and operated by the Association of American Railroads. A portion of FRA’s R&D program is carried out at the center, including the periodic testing of railroad tank cars. Another significant portion of FRA’s research program is carried out by DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. The remainder is conducted through grants, cooperative agreements, and competitively awarded contracts to universities, railroads, railroad suppliers, and consultants. The following is a brief synopsis of the kinds of research performed by FRA relating to hazardous materials transportation. Much of the work focuses on railroad tank cars, which account for the largest amount of hazardous materials moved by rail. Other research projects address topics ranging from the railroad routing of spent nuclear fuel to the integrity of intermodal tank containers. Together, this research accounts for 5 to 10 percent of FRA’s research budget, or about $2 million to $3 million per year.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 Research on Tank Cars Major improvements in the safety performance of railroad tank cars have occurred during the past three decades. They have stemmed in part from the understanding gained by research conducted by industry and FRA. Further gains in tank car safety remain a priority for FRA since they represent nearly one-fifth of the rail car freight fleet and account for most of the hazardous materials moved by rail. FRA’s tank car research program focuses on ways to ensure the structural integrity of tank cars during normal service life and under accident scenarios. It also seeks improvements in tank car inspection and testing procedures. Examples of FRA-sponsored research on tank car safety include the following projects: Tank car operating environment: An understanding of the tank car operating environment is important in anticipating the in-service loads to which tank cars are subjected. Severe loads can lead to tank car structural failures or to the accumulation of structural damage over time from many smaller cyclic forces. FRA is working on the use of microprocessor and telecommunications technologies as part of an instrumented tank car that can be placed in service to measure and record stresses and load forces. The data from the car will provide a better understanding of the actual load spectrum experienced by tank cars in operation. Safety of larger tank cars: Current regulations prohibit the transportation of hazardous materials in tank cars with a gross rail load (GRL) greater than 263,000 pounds. However, the railroad industry is moving rapidly in the construction and operation of other rail cars with a GRL of 286,000 pounds, which may prompt tank car builders and owners to seek similar size allowances. To evaluate the possible effects of such a size change on tank car safety performance, FRA is undertaking research with train operation simulation models. The results will be used in evaluating anticipated requests for tank cars with higher GRLs. Tank car engineering reliability and integrity: To assess tank car engineering reliability, various failure modes must be defined and categorized. Although complete and catastrophic failure is easily recognized, tank car integrity can deteriorate gradually. Problems that can con-
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 tribute to deterioration, such as corrosion, cracks, and pitting, need to be documented. FRA is developing a methodology for defining the boundaries of reliable use for each tank car type. The results of this work are expected to help tank car owners develop and implement guidelines for the maintenance and use of tank cars. Several FRA research projects are also under way or planned to model fatigue damage in tank car structures, determine the effects of welding and stress relief practice on the location and magnitude of stresses in tank car structures, and examine and adapt failure models for steels to gain a better understanding of failure mechanisms that can occur during accidents. Tank car safety devices: Significant safety gains have been achieved during the past three decades through improvements in pressure relief valves on tank cars, thermal insulation, and the use of double-shelf couplers. FRA continues to seek improvements in these devices. One FRA study, for instance, is developing rules to apply in the formulation of relief properties for commodities carried in tank cars, including nonpressurized commodities subjected to high temperatures. Another project is examining the load paths through the coupler, which should prove helpful in assessing future design and material changes to double-shelf couplers. Condition assessment and inspection capabilities: An accurate assessment of the condition of a tank car is essential to the safe transport of hazardous materials. Several FRA projects are under way or planned to compare alternatives for assessing the condition of tank cars. They include studies of acoustic emission technologies and nondestructive methods to replace hydrostatic testing. Other FRA Research on Hazardous Materials Transportation Railroads transport hazardous materials in flatcars, hopper cars, and intermodal containers and piggyback truck trailers, in addition to tank cars. Ensuring that the railroad physical environment and operations are suitable to moving these shipments safely is a goal of FRA. The agency supports that goal through research covering the following kinds of topics: Hazardous materials shipment routing decisions: FRA recognizes that there are risks associated with restricting hazardous materials shipments to certain classes of track, levels of train control, or areas
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 of low population density. It is studying the implications of such restrictions to better inform government and private decisions about the railroad routing of hazardous materials shipments. This research is intended to gain a better understanding of the trade-offs associated with various operational and technological approaches to reducing risk exposures from commodity movements by rail. Railroad transportation of spent nuclear fuel: Efforts to build a repository for long-term storage of radioactive materials and spent nuclear fuel have raised questions about the safety of moving these materials by rail. FRA research is assessing the risk of transporting spent nuclear fuel in regular freight service versus dedicated train service. As part of this effort, accident environment analyses are being used to determine forces that may be encountered by the casks containing the spent fuel. Integrity of intermodal tanks: The use of intermodal tanks for hazardous materials shipments is increasing in concert with international trade and an overall increase in the use of intermodal containers for international freight. FRA is undertaking research to assess the containment integrity of such tanks in railroad service. FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION FMCSA is the main federal agency responsible for implementing federal legislation and regulatory programs pertaining to large trucks and motor coaches. Its research and technology activities are intended to support an understanding of motor carrier safety factors and to better target federal safety initiatives, regulations, and technology promotions. FMCSA’s research and technology program focuses on the major safety factors under the agency’s purview, including driver and vehicle performance, carrier compliance, and safety systems and technologies. Most of the agency’s research projects do not deal directly with hazardous materials transportation. In FY 2004, only 10 to 15 percent of FRA’s total research budget of approximately $7 million, or somewhat less than $1 million, was spent on research related directly to this area. Nevertheless, research that leads to improved motor carrier safety generally is likely to have beneficial effects on hazardous materials safety, since hazardous cargoes account for a significant amount of truck traffic.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 The following is a synopsis of the kinds of research carried out by FMCSA that have at least some relevance to hazardous materials transportation. Incident analysis: FMCSA is sponsoring the Hazardous Materials Serious Crash Analysis Project, which is intended to enhance the methodology for identifying and characterizing serious hazardous materials truck crashes in the United States. The goal is to support the development and implementation of risk reduction strategies for containers, vehicles, and drivers. The project involves a first phase pilot test to evaluate ways to improve the current approach for identification of serious truck crashes on the basis of incident data collected by DOT. A second phase is intended to involve a more comprehensive examination of the data to determine the causes and effects of truck crashes. To understand better the causes of and factors contributing to truck crashes, FMCSA works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in developing and analyzing safety databases, including the Large Truck Crash Causation Study and the Commercial Vehicle Analysis Reporting System (CVARS). Driver safety performance: The Driver Safety Performance Program seeks to improve the performance of drivers of both commercial motor vehicles and other vehicles in the vicinity of large trucks and buses. Researchers are examining the behavior of motorists operating near large trucks and buses, and they are using driving simulators to identify safe driving parameters for commercial drivers. The goal is to gain a better understanding of commercial driving performance and use that understanding to develop education and training programs for drivers of commercial and noncommercial vehicles. Vehicle safety performance: The Vehicle Safety Performance Program focuses on improving truck and bus performance through vehicle-based safety technologies. Projects include the development of deployment plans for forward collision avoidance, rollover avoidance, and lane-departure warning systems. Technologies that can further hazardous materials security are also being assessed in collaboration with other DOT agencies.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 Carrier compliance and safety: FMCSA is interested in improving the regulatory compliance of motor carriers, especially high-risk carriers. Agency-sponsored research to address this area of interest includes studies of unsafe conditions and crash precursors to better target preventive and enforcement activities. Safety systems and technologies: FMCSA’s Safety Systems and Technologies Program seeks to identify and evaluate new technologies and operational concepts that promise to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and help in targeting enforcement to high-risk carriers. The agency has two main projects in this area. The first is accelerated research and testing of new safety technologies and operational concepts. As part of this project, a roadside demonstration site serves as a testing platform for safety technologies and decision-support tools for state agencies. The second project is exploring ways for federal, state, and local agencies to exchange information electronically to improve the targeting of high-risk truck and motor coach operators. UNITED STATES COAST GUARD USCG is the main federal agency responsible for ensuring maritime safety, security, and environmental protection on both inland and ocean waters. The agency also has law enforcement and national defense responsibilities, and its safety functions encompass commercial operations and recreational boating. USCG’s research and development program must meet a wide range of needs with an annual budget of slightly more than $20 million. About 5 percent of USCG’s research budget, or about $1 million per year, is focused specifically on hazardous materials transportation. USCG’s varied roles make this figure difficult to estimate. It is one of the few federal agencies with both regulatory and operational responsibilities, and therefore its research often serves multiple objectives. The research it conducts in support of marine security and safety bears directly on the transportation of hazardous materials by water. Likewise, USCG research in support of marine environmental protection is relevant to hazardous materials transportation. Two major USCG research initiatives to strengthen marine safety and security that relate to hazardous materials transportation are the devel-
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 opment of (a) risk management analytical tools for marine inspection and regulatory decision making and (b) countermeasures that minimize human error and reduce crew fatigue in the commercial maritime sector. Another relevant area is USCG’s support of vessel fire research, which includes studies of improved fire safety measures for tank vessels. In the area of marine environmental protection, USCG research focuses on pollution prevention and spill response. Research is being conducted to improve the federal government’s ability to mobilize resources in response to major spills of oil and other hazardous substances, mitigate the effects of these pollutants on the marine environment, and improve cleanup capabilities. An example of work in this area is the Fast-Water Containment Project, in which researchers are examining methods to contain and remove floating oil from fast-moving rivers and coastal areas. Among other technologies, researchers are investigating air-deployed systems, skimmers, and absorbent materials. Also related to hazardous materials transportation is USCG’s Tanker Damage Assessment and Countermeasures Project. The aim of this research is to develop a suite of integrated technologies to rapidly assess tanker damage, contain the product in the vessel, and transfer the product quickly and safely to lightering ships. OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES A number of other federal agencies within and outside DOT have responsibilities for implementing and enforcing federal hazardous materials laws and regulations. In addition, some have more general responsibilities for promoting transportation safety and security. All conduct research bearing on the safe, secure, and efficient transportation of hazardous materials. Federal Aviation Administration The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for regulating civil aviation and ensuring the safe and efficient use of the nation’s airports and airspace. It is charged with running the nation’s air traffic control system as well as developing and enforcing safety rules. In support of this extensive mission, FAA sponsors R&D covering a wide range of
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 topics, such as developing improved air traffic control technologies and understanding the environmental impacts of airports and aircraft. FAA R&D accounts for nearly one-quarter of DOT’s total R&D budget, with annual spending exceeding $200 million. FAA periodically sponsors research focused on hazardous materials issues. Major aviation accidents have involved hazardous cargoes, including the 1996 crash in Florida of ValuJet Flight 592. Of particular concern to FAA is the potential for prohibited or improperly packaged shipments of hazardous materials to be loaded onto passenger aircraft. The agency is also interested in ensuring that airlines and airports have the trained personnel and equipment needed to respond effectively to hazardous materials incidents. FAA has therefore sponsored research to develop protocols for assessing the diligence of air carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers in complying with hazardous materials regulations. It has devoted research funds to developing more suitable packaging for hazardous materials transported by air. Another goal is a searchable database that correlates hazardous materials records from various sources (enforcement, incidents, and inspections) to gain a better understanding of vulnerabilities and risk factors. Other relevant research projects are planned or under way, including a study of the mechanisms involved in battery fires, failures of pressure differential packages, and aerosol can explosions. Federal Highway Administration FHWA works in partnership with NHTSA, FMCSA, and states to improve the safety of the nation’s highway system. Research is an important part of its mission. Nearly all of the agency’s research leading to improvements in highway safety can be viewed as bearing on hazardous materials safety. FHWA also administers DOT’s Joint Program Office for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Development and deployment of technologies that can be used to track freight flows through the U.S. transportation system are being pursued as part of ITS. Such information systems may be helpful in prioritizing investments to facilitate commerce and improve safety and security in the freight sector, including the hazardous materials component of this sector.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA was established in 1970 to improve the safety of motor vehicles through regulation and other means, including promotion of technology. NHTSA conducts research on reducing traffic fatalities and injuries in crashes, preventing crashes, and understanding driver behavior to develop the most efficient means of bringing about these safety improvements. NHTSA spends about $80 million each year on research and technology development. Much of its research on heavy vehicles is performed in conjunction with FMCSA. Its research and analysis programs address several areas relevant to hazardous materials transportation: The development and maintenance of safety databases and data collection systems such as the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, National Automotive Sampling System, Special Crash Investigations, State Data Program, and Data Analysis Program. As mentioned earlier, NHTSA works with FMCSA in undertaking the Large Truck Crash Causation Study and in administering CVARS. In particular, it is working with FMCSA to include more information on crash causation in CVARS. Crash avoidance work to help drivers avoid crashes or decrease crash severity through improvements in driver and vehicle performance. Heavy vehicle research that aims to eliminate or mitigate the effects of crashes involving large vehicles. For the most part, this research is technology oriented and focused on furthering technologies such as advanced braking and stability enhancement systems. Office of the Secretary of Transportation OST formulates national transportation policy and has a leadership role in national transportation planning, negotiating and implementing international aviation agreements, and coordinating intermodal issues. The Intermodal Hazardous Materials Program Office is housed in OST. It reviews and guides departmental policies and budget resources pertaining to hazardous materials programs and serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Transportation on all intermodal and cross-modal hazardous materials matters. OST’s activities are usually undertaken in coordination with other agencies. Its research and development budget totals about $10 million per year. Hazardous materials research, therefore,
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 tends to be a small part of its overall effort, and such research is focused mainly on policy issues. Bureau of Transportation Statistics The Bureau of Transportation Statistics was created in 1992 by Congress for data collection, analysis, and reporting. In this role it coordinates and establishes quality standards for transportation data. Perhaps its most important role in hazardous materials transportation is in working with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct periodic Commodity Flow Surveys. The hazardous materials segment of the survey is a major source of data on the location and amount of hazardous materials moving through the nation’s freight system. It provides information on commodities shipped, their value and weight, mode of transportation, and origin and destination of shipments. The survey data are used by policy analysts and in transportation planning and decision making to assess the demand for transportation facilities and services and to perform safety, security, and environmental risk assessments. Transportation Security Administration and DHS The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), housed in DHS, was established in November 2001. TSA is charged with examining threats across the transportation system and preventing them. As a result of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, TSA has the lead responsibility for federal R&D related to civil aviation security. That responsibility had previously been FAA’s. TSA’s R&D program investigates technologies and methods for explosives and weapons detection, airport perimeter security, aircraft hardening, and passenger screening. Although TSA’s R&D is focused on aviation security, future R&D activities will be expanded to encompass the security needs of all modes of transportation (GAO 2004; TSA 2003, 24–25). The agency is working with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, DOT, and other federal agencies in evaluating technologies for container security, including the deployment of “smart” sensors and tagging and tracking systems. TSA’s Rail Cargo Security Branch is working with RSPA and the rail and chlorine industries to perform a systemwide review of the shipment of chlorine as part of its “chlorine initiative.”
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 The review will track the transportation of chlorine through the supply chain to identify best security practices and support the development of standards and performance-based regulations (TSA 2003, 27). Concerned about the security risk presented by the identification of hazardous cargoes through the use of placards, TSA is also sponsoring research to examine technologies that may be used as alternatives to placards for some shipments. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, the Superfund and Clean Water Acts, and other federal laws give EPA important roles in preventing and responding to releases of oil, hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants into the environment. This has resulted in coordination by DOT and EPA in the placarding, manifesting, and reporting of shipments containing EPA-designated hazardous substances in reportable quantities (RQs). EPA researches and evaluates the intrinsic properties of these substances to assess the possibility of harm from their release into the environment and to determine appropriate RQs. RSPA contributes funds to EPA for conducting this research. EPA’s research and analysis are main sources of technical support for the federal regulation of hazardous materials with respect to their longer-term environmental and human health effects. U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have significant roles in regulating and ensuring the safety and security of high-level radioactive materials in transportation. These agencies work with the national laboratories in conducting analyses in support of the packaging, routing, and tracking of radioactive materials. With DOE support, for example, Argonne National Laboratory develops risk assessment models for transporting hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with the support of DOE, NRC, and DOT, operates the National Transportation Research Center. The center’s Packaging Research Facility is charged with developing and testing packaging for radioactive and hazardous materials.
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for improving, maintaining, and operating the nation’s inland waterways and the channels that support commerce in ports and harbors. Large quantities of hazardous materials are transported through this system, especially on the waterways of the lower Mississippi River and Gulf Coast, where large portions of the nation’s petrochemical and fertilizer industries reside. In operating the locks and dams along these waterways, USACE maintains an extensive database on commerce flowing through the marine system, including movements of petroleum and chemicals. USACE waterborne statistics, which are maintained by the Navigation Data Center of the Institute for Water Resources, are an important resource for researchers and analysts assessing hazardous commodity flows. USACE also collects and analyzes data on U.S.-flag vessels, including the number and characteristics of the tanker and tank barge fleets. SUMMARY The federal agencies with the most significant roles in R&D for hazardous materials transportation are RSPA, FRA, and FMCSA, all of which reside in DOT. These agencies have regulatory responsibility for hazardous materials transportation packaging and operations. Much of the hazardous cargo moved within the United States is carried on the modes regulated by FRA and FMCSA (rail and truck, respectively). USCG also has significant roles in hazardous materials regulation and response in the maritime sector, and it conducts research in support of these roles. However, its research budget is small and dedicated to supporting its many other responsibilities. Collectively, these four agencies spend $5 million to $6 million per year on research related directly to hazardous materials transportation. The R&D conducted by other federal agencies that pertains to hazardous materials transportation tends to be focused on specific topics (for example, research by DOE and NRC focuses on the transportation of nuclear materials) or more general and overarching issues (for example, research by FHWA and NHTSA focuses on improving the highway safety environment). How much is spent by these other federal
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Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation: Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions - Special Report 283 agencies on research relevant to hazardous materials transportation is difficult to estimate because the research is rarely budgeted or programmed as “hazardous materials” research. While it may not be possible to offer a meaningful estimate of this spending, an approximation that includes all federal research related to hazardous materials transportation is likely to be several times larger than the $5 million to $6 million programmed directly. REFERENCES Abbreviations DOT U.S. Department of Transportation GAO General Accounting Office TSA Transportation Security Administration DOT. 2004. U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research, Development, and Technology Plan, 4th ed. Research and Special Programs Administration, Washington, D.C. www.rspa.dot.gov/research_plan.html. GAO. 2004. Transportation Security R&D: TSA and DHS Are Researching and Developing Technologies, but Need to Improve R&D Management. Report GAO-04-890. Washington, D.C., Sept. TSA. 2003. Report to Congress on Transportation Security. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., March 31.
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