PHMSA Announces Public Meeting to Solicit Input for 2020 Emergency Response Guidebook

On May 7, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced there will be a public meeting scheduled for June 17, 2019 to solicit input on the development of the 2020 edition of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). During the June 17 meeting, PHMSA will discuss different ways to determine the appropriate response protective distances for poisonous vapors resulting from spills involving dangerous goods considered toxic by inhalation in the “green pages” of the 2016 ERG. PHMSA will also discuss new methodologies and considerations for future editions of the ERG and outcomes of field experiments including ongoing research to better understand environmental effects on airborne toxic gas concentrations and other updates that will be published in the 2020 ERG. The 2020 ERG will be published in English, French, and Spanish and will increase public safety by improving emergency response procedures for hazardous material incidents across North America. For more information on how to be a part of the public meeting visit the link below:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/05/07/2019-09299/hazardous-materials-public-meeting-notice-for-the-2020-emergency-response-guidebook-erg2020

PHMSA first published the ERG Guidebook in 1973 for use by emergency services personnel to provide guidance for first responders during the critical first 30 minutes of hazardous materials transportation incidents. Since 1980, PHMSA’s goal has been to provide free access of the ERG to all public emergency response personnel including fire-fighters, police, and rescue squads. PHMSA has distributed more than 14.5 Continue Reading…

Transport Canada Launches Video: Responding to Rail-Car Incidents Involving Flammable Liquids

When a train carrying flammable liquids is involved in an incident, first responders are often the first on scene. These types of incidents are not typical for first responders. They require a unique approach. And for that reason, Transport Canada has put out a video on how to respond to rail-car incidents that involve flammable liquids. Below are the factors and steps from the video when dealing with these types of incidents.

Situation:

A Rail Car is involved in an accident and a fire starts on impact.  The rail car is properly placarded with the appropriate class 3 flammable Placard. Below are the factors that can influence the fire as well as steps and tools to utilize during the incident. 

Factors:

Whether it’s Gasoline, Diesel, Ethanol, Crude oil, or bitumen, knowing the properties of each is important to first responders because all can behave differently under spill and fire conditions.  This is where the importance of proper placarding will come into play as first responders can detect exactly what type of flammable substances are on the train based on the UN number.   Below are important factors of flammable substances that would help first responders determine the proper course of action:

Viscosity- Gives an indication on how fast the fire can spread.

Density- Will determine if substance will sink or float if it is near a body of water.

Flashpoint- Tells how easily the Continue Reading…

USPS Regulations and Updates
New USPS Mailing Standards for Mailpieces Containing Liquids and How ICC Can Help

The US Postal Service is taking a positive step to improve the safety of liquid packaging shipments. This step is significant, as the industry will begin to incorporate some components of UN 4GV combination packaging requirements among a wide variety of changes soon to be implemented. Here at ICC, we help you understand what these changes are and provide the solutions that ensure you meet these new stringent requirements.

Why Change?

The Postal Service has observed that a significant percentage of liquid spills results from mailers misinterpreting the existing packaging requirements for liquids, thinking their non-metal containers are not breakable. However, non-metal containers (i.e., plastic, glass, earthenware, etc.) are often the source of liquid spills in Postal Service networks. As a result, on July 9th of 2018, the US Postal Service proposed a new rulemaking on standards for mail pieces containing liquids. There was a comment period requesting public feedback on the proposed rules until September 18, 2018.

The proposed rule addressed two components:

  1. Clarification of existing language that specified packaging and markings for mail pieces that contain liquids in containers greater than 4 fluid ounces; and
  2. Extending the triple-packaging requirement for breakable primary containers with 4 ounces or less.

What are the Changes and the Compliance Solutions?

Effective on March 28, 2019, the adopted changes published in the final rule include:

railroad crossing
PHMSA UPDATE: New Safety Rule to Strengthen Oil Train Spill Response Preparedness

Much like Sheryl Crow sang, “A change, could do you good”, at least one would hope. When it comes to PHMSA, change is aimed at improving an already existing process, or adding a new process we can all benefit from. So in this case, I believe Sheryl Crow is right.

With that being said, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), recently issued a final rule that requires railroads to create and submit Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans for route segments traveled by High Hazard Flammable Trains also called HHFTs. The rule applies to these trains that are transporting petroleum oil in a block of 20 or more loaded tank cars and trains that have a total of 35 loaded petroleum oil tank cars.

Why the Change?

Incidents involving crude oil can have devastating consequences to local communities and the environment. Countering these effects on the environment can take between a few weeks to many years, depending on the damage caused. For this reason, fast and effective response is essential to rail accidents containing oil. The 174-page final rule is designed to improve the response readiness and decrease the effects of rail accidents and incidents involving petroleum oil and a flammable train. The agency said the rule also is needed due to expansion in U.S. energy production having led to “significant challenges for the Continue Reading…

Don’t Turn Your Vacation into an Embarrassing Headline

Sometimes no matter how many precautions you take, there is no way to stop the inevitable. Football players with helmets designed to protect their brains still get concussions. You cross every “t” and dot every “i” on your federal income tax return and you still get audited. And sometimes even if you follow all of the safety tips for lithium ion batteries in my previous blog, they still can explode. http://blog.thecompliancecenter.com/safety-tips-for-lithium-ion-batteries/

However, by not taking the proper preventative measures in all of the cases listed above, the chances of a negative outcome can be greatly increased. With the travel season looking to pick-up in the coming months and many of us looking to hop on a plane and head out to our idea of paradise, I think it is safe to say that none of us want to end up in a situation like the story below.

What Happened?

Just like any other domestic flight, passengers on a Delta flight in New York City were stowing their carry on items in the overhead storage bins and preparing for take-off for a scheduled departure to Houston, Texas. Suddenly, passengers started to smell something burning, similar to the smell of a camp-fire. It was at that point that passengers started to see smoke in the cabin and begin panicking. The panic was caused by a vape pen that started smoldering Continue Reading…

Single Packaging
BX-24DU Change Notice

Dear Valued Customer,

In an effort to continuously improve the quality and performance of our UN packaging, we occasionally must make changes to the specifications and usage instructions. This notice is to inform you that the following changes have been made to BX-24DU (PK-MT-124).

  1. The clear tape required for closure of this packaging has changed from 2 strips of 3M #305 48mm wide clear tape to 1 strip of 3M #375 48mm wide clear tape. This change to a stronger tape caused the box to perform better in drop tests, resulting in a more secure packaging.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer relations center in the US at 888-442-9628 or in Canada at 888-977-4834.

Thank you,

Michael S. Zendano

Packaging Specialist

Government Shutdown- How Does This Affect PHMSA??

With another government shutdown possibly looming again in the United States in mid-February, many are wondering how this affects the hazardous materials world, specifically those looking to ship domestically or shipments that are entering the U.S.  Whether or not you agree or disagree with the shutdown, I think it is safe to say we can all agree on the importance of the continuing enforcement of the hazardous materials regulations. So the million dollar question here is, will the government shutdown have an effect on PHMSA? The short answer here, for the time being, is yes, but not in all cases. While activities like program developments, research, and HMR permits have generally been suspended, enforcement of the regulations and investigations have continued. Below is a list of continuing operations and suspended activities while this government shutdown continues to take place.

Summary of Continuing Operations

• Investigations of pipeline accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need for corrective action, and any non-compliance that might have contributed to the accident.

• Inspections of pipeline operators and systems to detect and remediate safety concerns and determine compliance with the pipeline safety regulations.

• Enforcement of the pipeline safety regulations through corrective action orders, notices of probable violations, letters of warning and other authorized enforcement activities.

• Investigations of hazardous materials accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need Continue Reading…

New Dangerous Goods Fees to Go in Effect for Amazon

Last month I wrote a blog regarding penalty fees Amazon was looking to implement for packages that fail to comply with safety requirements when shipping dangerous goods. Amazon ultimately decided to take this a step further adding storage, and fulfillment fees for products they deem asdangerous goods. 

Who does this affect?

For sellers that utilize Amazon’s FBA program (Fulfillment By Amazon) in which third-party sellers send their goods to be stored, picked, packed, and shipped in Amazon warehouses before they are sold on Amazon, some of the new fees will go into effect on February 19, 2019, according to a note on Amazon’s forum for sellers.

Specifically, Amazon announced that it will be introducing a new fee for “dangerous” items like aerosol cans, and lithium-ion batteries that sellers send to Amazon warehouses. The fees will be higher than the regular fees Amazon charges for using Fulfillment By Amazon.

What are the fees?

The table below shows the new monthly inventory storage fees for dangerous goods containing flammable or pressurized aerosol substances. This change will first be reflected in April 2019 charges for storage that occurs in March 2019.

Storage Month Standard Size Oversize
January – September $0.99 per cubic foot $0.78 per cubic foot
October – December $3.63 per cubic foot $2.43 per cubic foot

Other fees include an introduction of separate fulfillment fees for dangerous goods that contain flammable or pressurized aerosol substances, and items that contain lithium-ion batteries.

Too see Continue Reading…

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Amazon Now Targeting Sellers That Ship Unsafe Packages to Warehouses

With the holiday season many of us are opting out of the busy malls and stores, and simply shopping from the comfort of our own homes. To make this option even more enticing some retailers are even offering free 2-day shipping during the holiday season. While this seems like a win-win situation for all there are some obstacles that have been coming to the surface, and unfortunately we are not just talking about late deliveries.  According to the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, the world’s largest internet retailer, Amazon, has seen a sharp increase in reports of shipments allegedly violating the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. In 2009, Amazon only had two incident reports, but that number jumped to 32 in 2016 before reaching 42 so far this year. This has caused Amazon to ultimately respond as they soon plan on adding new penalty fees for packages that fail to comply with its safety requirements.

Incidents

The main issue here is many third-party sellers on Amazon aren’t trained to ship dangerous goods, and simply don’t understand that what they are shipping is indeed hazardous. These third-party sellers often don’t realize what actions need to be taken per the Hazardous Material Regulations that exist to safeguard those who may come in contact with the dangerous goods. For that reason, often times the correct labeling, packaging, and paperwork required to Continue Reading…

Another PHMSA Penalty Increase

In the dangerous goods world things can change fast, so it is very important to be aware of the most up-to-the-minute changes. Much like in the video below, this can feel like an endless chase, but nevertheless we have to keep up the pace to stay within compliance of the changing regulations.

This not only goes for the regulations themselves, but also the penalties involved with being out of compliance. In Subpart D of Part 107 Hazardous Materials Program Procedures, there is a section entitled Enforcement, which outlines the civil and criminal penalties in the event you are non-compliant with the regulations. Being a federal agency, PHMSA must adjust their penalty rates each year to account for inflation. As of Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the new penalty rates officially go into effect. For this year it is a simple calculation, multiply the existing penalty by 1.02041, round up, and this will give you the new penalty.

For example:

  • A violation of hazardous materials transportation law under 49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(1) is going from $78,376 to $79,976.
  • A violation of hazardous materials transportation law resulting in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property destruction under 49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(2) is going from $182,877 to $186,610.

A complete list of the penalty rate changes can be found at the link below:

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-11-27/pdf/2018-24930.pdf

Why is this an issue? If you have the latest hardcopy of the 49 Continue Reading…