Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Oversight of Hazardous Materials Shipments Lacks Comprehe   [open pdf - 404KB]

"In July 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. While the accident was not caused by the oil, the fatalities and damage resulting from this incident highlight the importance of oversight of transportation of hazardous materials by rail. Significant increases in rail transport of crude oil--from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 407,761 carloads in 2013--and recent incidents in Alabama, North Dakota, and Virginia also underscore the importance of mitigating the risk of a hazardous material release in the event of a train accident. Due to the public safety risks that transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials pose, we conducted this audit to assess the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) enforcement of hazardous materials regulations using inspections and other tools. Specifically, we determined whether FRA (1) uses appropriate risk factors to allocate hazardous materials inspection resources; (2) provides sufficient guidance, tools, and training to hazardous materials inspectors; and (3) pursues civil and criminal penalties for violations of hazardous materials regulations. We conducted our work in accordance with generally accepted Government auditing standards. We reviewed documentation pertaining to FRA's hazardous materials oversight activities, risk factors, and data. At three FRA regional offices, we observed hazardous materials inspections and facility audits. We conducted interviews with two other regional offices, FRA headquarters officials, and representatives from the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. See exhibit A for a full description of our scope and methodology."

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U.S. Department of Transportation :https://www.oig.dot.gov
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