Occasionally our Regulatory Helpline is asked a question by a customer that stretches our knowledge of the regulations. The most recent one was a call regarding shipping spaceship batteries. Apparently, they were visiting another planet in their system and got stuck due to a dilithium crystal ion battery that would no longer hold a charge. Their home planet of Nibiru wants to send some replacement spaceship batteries and asked if there were any regulations with which they should comply and any areas with which they needed to be concerned.
To show you how great our helpline is, let’s review the process we used to get them the answer they needed.
Step 1: Is the planetary nation a current customer of ICC?
It turns out they actually are a current customer.
This means they have ready access to our helpline anytime they should need it.
Step 2: By which mode of transport will these be transported?
To start, the Area 51 CFR Ground regulations for the home planet must be reviewed. This is necessary as the spaceship batteries would be transported by hovercraft from the home planet’s office to the intergalactic air and space launch facility.
George Carlin will always be a favorite comedian for people of a certain age. One of his best-known bits is on oxymorons. An oxymoron, is basically a set of contradictory terms that work together. While not the greatest of explanations, let’s have George give you some examples to make the point.
This concept came to mind on the heels of the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) joint video on labeling. Those two organizations are just that, 2 different organizations, yet they released a joint video? It sounded like a setup to a bad joke. Turns out I was wrong.
The video does a great job of explaining the focus of each organization and goes a long way to clearing the air. There are references to the regulations used by each, but not a lot of time is spent on “regulatory language” or the details of either one.
Comparing PHMSA vs OSHA
Here is my version of the comparisons between the two and how closely the align based on the video.
Regulates hazardous materials in transport
Regulates hazardous chemicals in the workplace
Both want people to be safe.
Uses the Hazardous Materials Regulation
Uses the Hazard Communication Standard
Both have a set of “rules”.
Defines Hazardous Material as those that pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce
Every so often our regulatory team is asked a question that on the surface seems funny but in reality, has some interesting facets upon review. For example, can a perfume ever be shipped as anything but a perfume under the 49 CFR regulations? It sounds like a basic question. The short answer is yes. However, when you move through the intricacies of the regulations it can be a quite complex answer dependent on many factors.
Most of us familiar with the regulations would immediately think about the exceptions for small quantities, excepted quantities, de minimis, limited quantities and consumer commodities. However, before we can look at any of those, you need a clear indication of what you are actually shipping.
For perfume the shipping description is UN1266, Perfumery products, Class 3, Packing Group II or III. There is one special provision that applies for ground shipments on this entry. It is SP-149 that allows the inner container limit to be 1.3 gallons or 5 L when shipped as limited quantity or consumer commodity.
Let’s look at each exception and see if it would apply:
4 Small Quantity (§173.4). For this exception, we are limited to domestic highway and rail transport only. We also see that our Class 3 material is allowed. The maximum amount allowed per inner container for this exception is 1 oz. or 30 ml.
Television talk shows have been around forever. Back in the 1950s there was Joe Franklin who moved over from talk radio and the emergence of “The Tonight Show” with its first host Steve Allen. In the 1970s and 1980s the formatting changed to include more tabloid type themes. Eventually shows became more about interviewing celebrity guests, comedy skits, and musical performances.
After all, where else could you see Tom Cruise jump around on a couch or see a presidential candidate play a saxophone? In case you didn’t catch the references, Tom Cruise’s antics were on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and Arsenio Hall had Bill Clinton playing his saxophone.
What’s This Have to do with Dangerous Goods?
Speaking of Arsenio Hall, a part of his show included the skit called “Things That Make You Go Hmmm“. While quite funny, most aren’t appropriate for company blog. I mention this because of a recent regulatory inquiry that made it’s way to me.
A customer of ours wanted to ship a can of root beer from the US to a client in France. They wanted to know if the root beer would be considered a hazardous materials shipment. Good question if you think about it. Root beer could be considered hazardous because of the compressed gas (carbon dioxide) in solution which is hazard class 2.2.
It is January and all of the new or updated transport regulations are in full swing. This includes the new IATA addendums and IMDG Code corrigenda that were recently published. That leaves many tracking down what changed in and how those changes could impact business. Add to that dealing with the complexities that come with shipping lithium batteries and many people end up feeling confused like Vincent “Vinny” Barbarino on “Welcome Back Kotter”. Check out that memory.
Here is my attempt to simplify the placarding and segregation requirements as they now stand for lithium batteries. Let’s take a look at each topic and regulation to sort things out.
49 CFR – US Ground
Placarding (§172.504): Class 9 materials are found on Table 2. This indicates that when the gross aggregate weight of the materials in the transport vehicle reaches 1001 pounds (454 kilograms) placards would be needed. In Paragraph (f)(9) there is an exception. The exception tells us that placards are not needed for Class 9 materials shipped domestically. Easy right? Now this paragraph also tells us that should you use a bulk packaging of batteries, we would be required to mark the identification number on an orange panel, a white square-on-point configuration or a Class 9 placard.
Segregation and Separation Chart of Hazardous Materials (§177.848): There is currently nothing in this section of 49 CFR to indicate batteries should be segregated or Continue Reading…
Here we are at the end of 2017 and the best word to summarize it is “change”. Every transport regulation had some sort of change this year. The most recent one is to the IMDG Code. A Corrigenda was published earlier this month that makes some changes to the 38-16 version. Note that this version becomes mandatory for use starting January 1, 2018.
Here are a few of the highlights:
The words “fishmeal” and “seedcake” are now divided into separate words throughout the regulation. You now have “fish meal” and “seed cake” throughout the code.
The words “marking” and “markings” have all been replaced with “mark” or “marks” through the entire code.
Several chapters in the regulation have been renumbered such as the subheadings under 5.1.1, 7.8.6 and 7.8.7.
Packing Instruction P002 has a change to Special Packing Provision PP11 to include 5H1, 5L1 and 5M1 bags.
Special Packing Provision PP40 has been deleted from several UN numbers including 1396 (PG III), 1398 (PG III), 1402 (PG I) and 3132 (PG III) to name a few.
For the new Lithium Battery mark there is now the allowance that it can also be a “suitable contrasting background” rather than just black and white.
The new Class 9 Hazard Label for Lithium Batteries also received some clarification in Chapter 220.127.116.11.1.3 in that the number of vertical stripes Continue Reading…
My family has always been made up of people who like to read. It starts with the little ones being read to by others and generally leads to a love of independent reading later in life. I saw the process start with the next generation during the recent United States’ holiday of Thanksgiving. In order to get the 18-month old to settle down for a nap his father read to him. Funny enough, the story was that of Chicken Little. For those that don’t remember the story it is about Chicken Little getting hit on the head by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling. To protect friends and family the character decides to go tell the king. On the way, Chicken Little meets various friends and proceeds to tell each of them that the sky is falling. Hearing the refrain of “the sky is falling” said throughout the telling of the story it got me thinking …
The Sky is… Not Falling?
What if rather than panicking about the event Chicken Little followed proper procedure? When handling hazardous materials there must be plans in place to handle accidents. This includes spills and injuries at your location and more importantly during transport. One such procedure is set in 49 CFR for US ground transportation. In Section 172.604 it states that an emergency response telephone number must be Continue Reading…
One of my favorite childhood shows was “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”. How he and his group of friends could solve all those crazy hauntings and monsters always amazed me. Nothing made me happier than when the culprit was discovered and he uttered the words, “If it weren’t for you pesky kids, I would have gotten away with it.” After all I was only a kid and catching the bad guys was a big deal.
Occasionally during a training class odd questions or little mysteries arise. In those times I can feel like Thelma from my childhood show tracking down the clues and getting an answer. Here is one from one mystery from a recent training. It came about after our discussion on United Nations (UN) Specification Packaging. We had just finished reviewing all the parts of the packaging codes and discussing the manufacturer’s packing instructions as they apply to 49 CFR – US ground regulations. This lead to talking about their actual facility. Below is a picture of a box they have on site for use. They wanted to know if it was in compliance.
Ah, a mystery I can solve.
In case you didn’t catch why they asked about this particular box and compliance, take a look at the FOUR package specification codes on the box. For most boxes, there is only one code derived from the Continue Reading…
Birthdays are important milestones and should be celebrated. One important one for parents is a baby’s first birthday. This is often followed by apprehension when a child reaches their teenage years. Many people in the United States enjoy turning 21 because that means alcohol is legal for us to consume. After that there are the “round” birthdays – those dreaded ones that have a zero after them. You know, turning 30, 40, 50, etc. We also celebrate the birth of nations. In the US it is every July 4th. For Canada the celebration is on July 1st. Many religions celebrate birthdays too. Christmas in the Christian faith is the birth of Jesus. Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s birthday on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Companies also follow this same practice. In fact, ICC Compliance Center just turned 30 last month.
What does all of this birthday talk have to do with the transport of hazardous materials? January 12, 1966 saw then President Lyndon B. Johnson declare in his State of the Union address his plans to create a Department of Transportation (DOT). It was on April 1, 1967 the DOT was open for business. Think about that for a moment. That means in the 1940s when the first atomic bomb was created, there were no regulations around the transport of Class 7 radioactive materials. Other materials such Continue Reading…
A warehouse in South St. Louis caught fire on Wednesday and is still burning today.
Listed as a five-alarm fire by some media outlets has caused major problems for the St. Louis area for several reasons. First, multiple-alarm fires are ones where multiple fire stations, firetrucks and firefighters are called in to battle the fire. This number can increase or decrease depending on just how much equipment and manpower is needed to contain the situation. The scale general ranges from one to ten, so a five-alarm fire is of definite concern. The next concern is over the decay of the building as the fire continues to burn. Yesterday, the roof collapsed forcing the fire higher and spreading debris. Following that collapse a section of wall came down damaging one of the trucks. Most alarming is the need for a HazMat Team.
Why a HazMat Team?
Check out these links to see pictures and videos showing the extent of the fire: