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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) late last week issued a new directive to owners of certain DOT-111 tank cars built between 2009 and 2015 that they may have "substantial weld defects" that could result in the release of hazardous materials.The cars of concern were built by American Railcar Industries and ACF Industries. The potential flaws were found in the welds at the bottom of the car where two components allow for product to be offloaded. Some of the welds don't meet federal safety regulations or industry specifications, FRA Administrator Sara Feinberg wrote in the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Fast Lane" blog."The good news is these flawed welds have been found in only a small portion of the U.S. tank car fleet" that were manufactured by American Railcar and ACF between 2009 and 2015, she wrote.The directive requires tank-car owners to act immediately to determine if their fleets contain any of these cars, and if so, to repair them.As of Sept. 30, the FRA began requiring tank car owners to:• determine within 30 days if their fleet contains any of the tank cars and report those to the FRA;• visually inspect the cars to ensure safety and that there is no visible leak; and• put the identified cars through ultrasonic and surface inspections to examine the welds, and if flaws are detected, immediately remove the cars from service and repair them.Tank cars with confirmed flaws that carry hazmat must be tested and repaired faster than cars that carry other products, Feinberg said.
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