Some of you may remember the old credit card commercial that featured the epic journey of a self-propelled suitcase seeking its lost owner. Well, it turns out this wasn’t so entirely fantastic. There’s a new generation of “smart luggage” hitting the market that can tell airlines electronically who it belongs to and where it’s going, trail after you down airport hallways without a handle, and charge your cellphone if you can’t make it to one of those electrical outlets airports seem to hide on purpose. Some will even double as transport devices themselves, allowing travelers to zip around terminals on their own electric suitcase-scooters.
But these modern technologies come with a problem that’s often overlooked. The energy sources for all these seemingly-magical functions are usually lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are one of the main causes of fires related to dangerous goods on aircraft. So travelling with the newest piece of high tech luggage can bring headaches both for the traveller and the airline he or she flies on.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has for many years established rules for equipment containing lithium batteries carried by passengers or crew, but dangerous luggage is a new area. To help, they’ve published a guidance document that covers the dangers associated with such luggage, and instructions on how it can be carried safely.
Are you a birdwatcher who’s spotted every owl and thrush, and wants to move on to a new field of study? Are you a model train hobbyist who wants to make sure your HO scale equipment accurately reflects modern regulations? Or are you a safety professional who deals with bulk dangerous goods in tank cars? If your answer to any of those questions is “yes,” the American Association of Railways (AAR) has published something that will make identifying a TC-111A100W5 or DOT-117R100W as easy as telling a Mourning Warbler from a Laughing Gull.
AAR’s Field Guide to Tank Cars, by Andy Elkins, is a resource for rail workers and particularly for emergency responders. Tank cars come in many varieties, and handling them safely or responding to spills means that you must know what type of car is involved. The Field Guide has been updated for its third edition to reflect current regulations and standards, which have changed over the past decade due to incidents such as the Lac-Mégantic explosion in Quebec.
Types of Tank Cars
The Field Guide starts with a discussion of the basic types of tank cars – non-pressurized tank cars (also known as “general service” or “low-pressure” cars), pressure tank cars for products such as liquid propane and cryogenic liquid tank cars, used for gases that are liquefied at low Continue Reading…
On April 28, 2017, IDC Technologies held their second Dangerous Goods Conference in Mississauga, Ontario. Two of our regulatory staff from ICC were among the presenters during a day of informative sessions that covered transportation, environmental, and safety aspects of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG).
ICC Regulatory Consultant Clifton Brown presented his study of the effect the current lithium battery regulations are having on air safety, with a look over the history of accidents involving these batteries since they were first introduced in the early 1990s. Clifton did a lot of sifting through reports from government and industry sources to conclude that the regulations on lithium batteries have a way to go to make them a negligible hazard. Perhaps by the time they are, we’ll have invented safer methods of energy storage.
I presented an overview of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) changes to health and safety regulations, and whether the GHS Purple Book has achieved worthwhile harmonization in the same way as the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (the Orange Book). Unfortunately, we’ll have to deal with a lot of disharmonization remaining in the short term (such as the differences on dealing with environmental hazards between North America and Europe). However, the Orange Book has, slowly but surely, led regulators Continue Reading…
On March 25, 2017, the United States government implemented a ban on passengers bringing carry-on electronic devices such as laptops on board certain airlines. This ban will affect electronics that exceed the size of a cellphone—typical products that will be banned include laptop computers, tablets such as the iPad and Android versions, gaming devices larger than a cellphone, DVD players, and portable printers and scanners. These devices may still be carried by travelers, but must be stowed in checked luggage during the flight. Medical devices will be exempted from the restrictions.
The ban affects flights leaving from ten airports in eight Middle Eastern countries.
Airports Involved in the Ban:
Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
Cairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt
Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
The ban affects flights of the following airlines leaving from any airports listed above:
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
The ban is intended to only apply to direct flights from these locations to the U.S., which would total just about 50 flights a day. Continue Reading…
A few years ago, someone wrote an irate letter to his local newspaper about the deer warning signs put up on a local highway. He couldn’t understand why they were always on busy highways. Wouldn’t it reduce accidents if the deer were told to cross smaller roads instead?
We may laugh, but the story does bring up an interesting point. Just how effective are traffic warning signs? They can be found wherever we travel, from the common “sharp curve ahead” to the more esoteric, such as the “moose warning” signs in Newfoundland. Highway safety departments consider them an important part of improving driving safety. But how well do they work?
Apparently, the answer is somewhere between “not great” and “we’re not sure.” There’s little research on the effectiveness of highway traffic signs and what there is shows that a surprising lack of effectiveness. For example, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has admitted:
“Signs that alert drivers to infrequent encounters or possible situations–such as deer crossing or children playing—do not have a consistent impact on driver behavior. Widespread use or misuse of warning signs reduces their overall effectiveness.”
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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).
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…