The National Academies

HMCRP HM-07 [Final]

Accident Performance Data of Bulk Packages Used for Hazardous Materials Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: ESI
Principal Investigator: Phil Daum
Effective Date: 3/5/2010
Completion Date: 5/4/2012
Comments: Published as HMCRP Report 10.

 Bulk packages are a common method of transporting hazardous materials. The ability to predict the performance of these packages in a transportation accident is critical in the evaluation of risks. Accurate data on the impact of various design specifications on package performance in accidents are essential for safety, robust risk analysis, and better packaging selection decisions by carriers, shippers, and regulators. A long-standing private-sector initiative managed by the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) [the RSI-AAR Railroad Tank Car Safety Research and Test Project] has collected and analyzed damage reports on tank cars involved in railroad accidents, whether or not the damage resulted in a leak of contents. The resulting data have been used to develop conditional release probabilities and amounts released for tank cars having different design specifications and features.  Such specifications and features include overall release probabilities as well as probabilities by the location of the leak (i.e., shell, head, top or bottom fittings, or multiple locations). No such data exist for cargo tank motor vehicles or portable tanks; therefore, risk estimates for these types of packages are based on loose estimates and anecdotes rather than quantitative data.
The objectives of this research are to (1) recommend methodologies for collecting and analyzing performance data for U.S. DOT-specified hazardous materials bulk packages (i.e., portable tanks and cargo tank motor vehicles) and (2) identify and evaluate institutional barriers to data collection and recommendations for overcoming these barriers. These data and their analysis will be used by decisionmakers to develop conditional probabilities of release and of amounts released in transport accidents by road and rail.  Performance data include, but are not limited to, data related to various equipment designs (including materials of construction, thickness of the shell and head, and fittings design and protection on bulk packages) and circumstances of the accident when available (including location of damage, amount of material released, hole size, etc.).
 Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The HMCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
Phase 1
(1). Review package performance studies and analyses of U.S. DOT-specified hazardous materials bulk packages (portable tanks and cargo tank motor vehicles) whether hauling hazardous or non-hazardous materials. The review may include national and international analyses, testing, and special-permit authorized packages.  (2). Discuss the implications of different definitions for data collection. Consider the effects of various accident severity thresholds on achieving the project objectives.   (3). Investigate existing data collection strategies. The investigation will include the DOT 5800.1 form; the results of HMCRP-02, "Hazardous Materials Transportation Incident Data for Root Cause Analysis"; the RSI-AAR Safety Research and Test Project; and consideration of other approaches to collecting accident performance of bulk hazardous materials packages (e.g., FAA, NASA, Coast Guard, international agencies). (4). Interview package manufacturers, carriers, and shippers to determine how they have incorporated accident performance into their designs and specifications. What data do package manufacturers, carriers, shippers, and service facilities think are important to collect to achieve the project objectives? Interview regulatory and enforcement agencies, as well as other potential users of the data (e.g.,academic institutions and risk analysts), to understand their needs for and uses of such data. (5). Describe what data need to be collected to meet the project objectives.  (6). Design at least three approaches to collect data. Discuss who will collect data, how data will be collected, and where data will be housed. Discuss how privileged data will be protected.  Based on the pros and cons of each, prioritize the approaches as to the ease of implementation and usefulness.  (7).  Submit an interim report that summarizes the results of Tasks 1 through 6. (8). Nine months after contract initiation, meet with the project panel to present the results of Tasks 1 through 6 and discuss how Tasks 9 through 11 will be conducted. The research agency shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without HMCRP approval.
Phase 2
 Although a detailed work plan will be developed in Task 8, each proposal shall contain the research agency’s current thinking on how Phase 2 should be undertaken. (9). Refine the selected data collection approach into a system with details about the elements of the data set to be collected. Develop a draft work plan for implementing the system.  (10). Pilot test the recommended approach.  (11). Identify institutional barriers (e.g., legal, cost, privacy, and regulatory) and possible solutions. (12). Prepare a final report that recommends methodologies for collecting and analyzing performance data for U.S. DOT-specified  hazardous materials bulk packages and identifies and evaluates the institutional barriers to data collection and recommendations for overcoming these barriers.
STATUS: Published as HMCRP Report 10, Feasibility Study for Highway Hazardous Materials Bulk Package Accident Performance Data Collection.  The report is also available electronically at



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