The Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) decided that the Louisiana state requirement for immediate telephone notification of pipeline incidents/accidents to the Louisiana State Police in La. R.S. 32:1510A is not preempted by the federal hazardous material transportation law. RSPA also decided the federal hazardous material transportation law does preempt the written requirement for notification (La. R.S. 32:1510B & C) in Louisiana.
Not only is the carrier required to make immediate notification (commonly defined as within 15 minutes) of an incident, “each person involved” is required to make notification of the incident even if the State Police have already been notified by another party. In the case described, the Louisiana State Police were on the scene in response to the carrier’s notification prior to the shipper’s arrival and yet the shipper was sent a Notice of Violation for failing to notify. RSPA decided that Louisiana’s immediate notification requirements are not duplicative of the DOT notification requirements, so the immediate notification requirements still stand.
RSPA decided that written notification requirements (must be done as soon as possible but within 30 days) to both the State and the DOT were redundant and tend to undercut compliance. As a result, the state rules were preempted and written notification for hazardous material transportation incidents must be made to DOT per 49 CFR 171.16.
For more information, contact Frazer C. Hilder, Office of the Chief Counsel, Research and Special Programs Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001 (Tel. No. (202)366-4400).