PHMSA Update
U.S. Final Rule HM-215N on International Harmonization Delayed

Regulatory Freeze Delays Final Rule HM-215N

The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) has withdrawn a Final Rule that was intended to be published in the Federal Register on January 26.

The Final Rule, HM-215N, would have updated the U.S. “Hazardous Materials Regulations” to reflect international standards, improving U.S. abilities to import and export hazardous materials as well as reflecting improved safety standards. However, due to the new administration’s Regulatory Freeze executive memorandum, regulatory changes that had been sent to the Federal Register but not already approved must be immediately withdrawn for “review and approval” before being reissued. While the text of the Final Rule had already been published on PHMSA’s website on January 18th, it had not yet appeared in the Federal Register. The Regulatory Freeze took effect as of January 20.

Since this update is relatively non-controversial for stakeholders in the transportation industry, and will improve the ability of the United States to compete internationally, it is hoped that the review and approval time will be short. However, until the Final Rule can be published, the hazmat community must wait for the anticipated harmonization of U.S. regulations with international standards. These include proposed changes such as:

  • the adoption of the latest versions of the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the ICAO Technical Instruction’s on the Safe Transport Continue Reading…
IMDG
Changes for IMDG Code 38th Edition

Next year signals the start of a new biennium for transportation of dangerous goods. Ocean shippers should take a look at what’s in store in the new International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) which has been updated to reflect the most recent revisions of the UN Recommendation for the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

Compared to other regulations, the IMDG Code has a rather complex method of implementing changes. The IMDG Code 38th Edition was published in November of this year, so it will be referred to as the 2016 edition. However, the changes will not go into effect for 2016. Instead, shippers and carriers may start to use the new edition as of January 1, 2017. But a transition period of one year is given, so the changes are not mandatory until January 1, 2018. A new edition of the Code will be published near the end of 2018, but there will be another transition period of a year during which the 38th edition can still be used.

IMDG Transition Timeline
IMDG Transition Timeline

Think of it this way – during odd-numbered years you can use the current edition of the code, or the previous one. During even-numbered years, you must use the latest code published.

So, what changes can we expect for ocean shipment? It turns out that this biennium will not be one of massive changes, but Continue Reading…

Lithium
FedEx Grants Extension on Lithium Battery Mark for Air Transport

New Lithium Battery Marks

The 58th Edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations has introduced new package markings for air transport of lithium batteries. For fully-regulated (Section I) batteries the UN has introduced the dedicated lithium battery Class 9 label, showing a battery graphic in the lower half. For low-powered batteries that are exempted under Section II, IATA has introduced a new version of the Lithium Battery Handling label (the one marked “CAUTION”).

The new Lithium Battery Handling mark (no longer classified by IATA as a “label”) was designed to eliminate the text portion, making the mark no longer dependent on a specific language. Instead of using text to indicate type of battery, this mark will use the UN number, making it easy to identify the batteries no matter what language the handlers speak.

New Lithium Battery Mark and Pictogram

ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and IATA (International Air Transport Association) intend this new handling mark and the new lithium battery Class 9 label to be phased in over the next two years, to become mandatory on January 1, 2019. This will allow people to use up old stocks, and train their staff to recognize the new symbols while still using the old ones.

FedEx Implementation

However, FedEx introduced a variation (FX-05 in the IATA DGR) that requires shippers to mark the UN number on Section II batteries as of January 1, 2017, two years before ICAO Continue Reading…

PHMSA Update
U.S. Publishes Proposed Rule HM-215N on International Harmonization

It’s autumn — we’re surrounded by orange leaves and orange pumpkins, and children are thinking about Halloween. Regulators, on the other hand, are thinking about something else orange. A new edition of the Orange Book (the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods) is out.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has made a commitment that U.S. transportation will stay well-harmonized with international regulations. So, now that the 19th Edition of the Orange Book is upon us, we must prepare for changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR).

DOT’s rules on international harmonization can be identified by their HM-215 docket numbers. On September 7, 2016, PHMSA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, HM-215N. This rulemaking is intended to harmonize the HMR with the latest regulations on hazardous materials, including:

  • 2017-2018 Edition of the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI),
  • Amendment 38-16 to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG),
  • Canada’s “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations” (TDG) up to an amendment incorporated on May 20, 2015,
  • 6th Revised Edition of the UN Manual of Test and Criteria, and
  • 6th Revised Edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

What changes can we expect?

As always, PHMSA does not simply Continue Reading…

Danger Placard
FBI Promoting “Suspicious Sales” Video

Availability of Dangerous Chemicals

Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing, industry has been aware of how criminals may try to obtain hazardous chemicals to create their own improvised weapons. Nowadays, U.S. and Canadian transportation regulations address how to protect chemicals in transport and prevent theft or tampering. Most industrial manufacturing and storage facilities have already implemented security systems and verification procedures for large customers.

But there’s a gaping hole in the system through which criminals can still get their hands on the ingredients they need. Many consumer products openly available in retail stores can be used as easily as industrial supplies to create bombs and poisons, or to be used in the dangerous production of illicit drugs. These purchases are often hard to track, because of the relative anonymity of consumer purchases.

The Chemical Countermeasures Unit (CCU) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is promoting a video on how to recognize suspicious sales of chemicals. The video, titled Suspicious Sales, dramatizes an explosion in an apartment building and the subsequent investigation, done in Law and Order style. Two detectives track down the purchases used to create the bomb based on standard commercial receipts found at the scene of the explosion (our criminal, in this case, having blown himself up by accident in his own apartment).

The chemicals were purchased at a number of stores – a beauty supply store, Continue Reading…

Beaker
The Poisoner’s Handbook – How Forensic Science Gave Birth to Modern Safety Regulations

Modern Forensic Science

Dr. Charles Norris, New York City's first chief medical examiner
[Dr. Charles Norris, New York City’s first chief medical examiner]. [Between 1920 and 1932?] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2013650279/. (Accessed September 02, 2016.)
If you love TV shows like “The Making of a Murderer” or “Forensics Files”, you’ll probably be intrigued by a book titled The Poisoner’s Handbook. But rather than serving as a guide to criminal mayhem, this book traces the growth of modern forensic science in the U.S., concentrating on the contributions of Dr. Charles Norris.

Norris was a visionary of his time who reformed the New York City Medical Examiner’s office from a political plum into a modern instrument for protecting the public. This meant protecting them not just from the occasional thug or greedy heir lurking with a bottle of rat poison, but against some of the largest industries of the time, who, in a combination of greed and ignorance, often poisoned their own employees and the public at large.

Author Deborah Blum deftly outlines her heroes and villains. Charles Norris came from a family of bankers (his grandfather had negotiated the first loan to the federal government to finance the Civil War), and often would resort to using his own money to keep his office running. His expertise in toxicology served him well in finding new ways to detect chemicals and prove their role in the deaths of Continue Reading…

Safety Star Wars
May the (Safety) Force Be with You

Even a universe long ago and far, far away isn’t immune to problems with worker safety. And it’s not just those Storm Troopers eternally hitting their heads on the ceiling, or rebels getting trapped in garbage disposals.

An Accident on Set

During the filming of 2015’s blockbuster “Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens,” star Harrison Ford was struck by a piece of the set, resulting in a broken leg and several weeks’ delay in filming. The lost production time wasn’t the film company’s only problem, though. Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, a Disney subsidiary, was charged with four criminal violations to the United Kingdom’s workplace safety laws. This week, the company pleaded guilty to two counts, with the remaining two counts being withdrawn by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (The charges were laid in Britain because the accident occurred at the famous Pinewood set near London.)

Ironically, what endangered the 74-year-old star was a piece of modern technology. While working on set, he was struck by an automatic hydraulic-powered door that was reportedly triggered by someone unaware that Harrison was nearby. The force produced by this door was likened by the prosecution to “a small car.” When Harrison starred in the first Star Wars film, such a door would have been more likely to be powered by a stage-hand pulling a rope.

The Film Industry’s History of Risk

That doesn’t Continue Reading…

Pokémon Go pokéball
Pokémon Go: Gotta Catch ‘Em All – Safely

Until recently, if you saw someone wandering down the street, eyes fixed to their smart phone, you might assume they were absorbed by texting “Sup?” to all their friends. But there’s a new craze this summer, a game called Pokémon Go. While the game has been praised for getting couch potatoes out into the streets searching for digital creatures (the “pocket monsters” or Pokémon) to collect, questions about player safety (as well as bad behaviour) have been a hot topic in the news.

Let’s look at how you can enjoy hunting adorable imaginary monsters without getting hurt or becoming a nuisance to others.

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is available in Canada and the U.S. as a free download for both Android and iOS phones. Once you download it, you discover the game has two main parts – hunting and fighting

Your first task is to locate and catch Pokémon. There are 142 types (Currently available in North America) that may be generated around the landscape. The game provides you with a map of your location, which will indicate, in a frustratingly vague manner, the Pokémon available for capture in your general area. When one comes into range, your smartphone will vibrate and an adorable cartoon monster will appear on your phone screen. To catch it, flick a trap called a “pokéball” at the creature (the thumb-flick, though easy, is not Continue Reading…

Transport Canada Amends TDG Reporting Requirements

On June 1, 2016, Transport Canada issued an amendment to the “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations” (TDG) under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. This amendment substantially revises the requirements for reporting spills of dangerous goods during transportation. It also addresses changes to air shipment of lithium ion batteries and makes various minor corrections and changes. The “Reporting Requirements and International Restrictions on Lithium Batteries Amendment” reflects concerns that the previous requirements for reporting spills, called “accidental releases,” was inefficient and didn’t allow the reporting parties to evaluate the risk to the public when deciding if a release had to be reported.

Changes to Reporting – Surface Transport

The section on reporting accidental releases, Part 8, called “Accidental Release and Imminent Accidental Release Report Requirements,” has been removed from the regulations and replaced with a new Part 8 titled simply “Reporting Requirements”.

First, the amendment removes the definitions for “accidental releases” and “anticipated accidental releases” and replaced them with definitions for “releases” and “anticipated releases”. This means that the reporting requirements will now cover intended releases as well as those that occur by accident.

Next, Transport Canada has adjusted the quantities of a release that would trigger reporting. For road, rail and water transport, these changes include:

  • The limit is lowered to any amount for Class 1, Explosives; Class 2, Compressed Gases; Classes 3, 4, 5, 6.1, or 8, in Continue Reading…
Beaker
Pool Maintenance – Use Chlorine and Keep It Clean

Chlorine gas is a scary material. This yellowish gas can kill people at very low concentrations in air. Travelling wherever the wind takes it, leaking chlorine gas is an emergency situation. A mere 10 parts per million in air is classified as Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH). The whole city of Mississauga, Ontario, was evacuated for a week in 1979 due to the threatened release of chlorine from one damaged railway tankcar.

And yet, people clean their swimming pools on a regular basis using products called “pool chlorine”. How is this possible?

It turns out that the chlorine we use in swimming pools isn’t actually chlorine gas. Instead, pool chlorine is composed of chemicals that react with water to give off chlorine gas, slowly and safely. Typical chemicals used for pool disinfectants may be inorganic (such as calcium hypochlorite or lithium hypochlorite), or organic (such as trichloroisocyanuric acid and sodium dichloroisocyanurate).

When these chemicals are mixed with water, they break down to generate chlorine gas in small amounts. However, chlorine is a highly reactive material. It reacts with water molecules themselves to form a substance known as hypochlorous acid. This acidic compound will destroy the cell membranes of harmful organisms such as bacteria and algae, killing them and disinfecting the pool.

Hypochlorous acid, however, is quite reactive itself. Therefore, stabilizers may be added to the chlorinating product, or Continue Reading…