Arbitrator upholds FMCSA’s out of service order for Nevada company’s tankers

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Friday, October 10, 2014

An arbitrator has denied most of a California tanker company’s appeal of an out-of-service order which prohibits “the filling, offering, transportation and welded repair of cargo tank vehicles”, according to an announcement from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Stephen L. Domotor, chief safety officer for the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, issued the ruling earlier this month. According to a copy of the official ruling, Domotor found that the company, National Distribution Services Inc., of Reno, Nev., was a properly named party to the out-of-service order, and that the FMCSA’s orders were “limited to the extent necessary to abate the imminent hazard.”

The original hazard order stems from a May 6 cargo tank explosion at the company’s Corona, Calif., facility, where workers were making repair welds on the cargo tank.  One of the men was killed and another seriously injured. A subsequent investigation by FMCSA found that the cargo tank had not been cleaned and purged prior to starting the welded repair. Investigators found numerous unauthorized welded repairs performed on National Distribution’s hazardous material cargo tanks were not done in accordance with federal safety requirements. 

National Distribution was served with an emergency restriction order on Aug. 14, prohibiting the company from transporting hazardous materials in its entire fleet of cargo tanks. FMCSA subsequently released some cargo tanks after National Distribution submitted documentation that the tanks had successfully passed required tests and inspections and certified to FMCSA that the tanks did not possess any post-manufacture welds. The company has also been allowed to haul commodities that are not required to be transported in USDOT specification cargo tanks. The company filed a formal appeal of the order in September.

Domotor did agree with the company’s contention that one of its employees – administrative manager Carl Johansson – should not have been named as a party to the order in his personal capacity.

The ruling, as well as the initial petition and other supporting documents filed on behalf of both parties, is posted online at the Federal Register website. The documents may be viewed for free here.

*Editor’s note: This article’s headline and opening paragraph have been corrected to reflect that the prohibition order applied only to the company’s cargo tank motor vehicles, not the company as a whole. 

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