PHMSA Issues NPRM HM-215M for Harmonization with International Standards

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been committed to ensuring that the domestic Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) are kept current with international standards. Since these standards are updated at the United Nations (UN) level every two years, this requires frequent amendments. The latest round of amendments has been started with the issue of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on August 25.

The NPRM has been issued by DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) as Docket Nos. PHMSA-2013-0260, HM-215M. It contains revisions necessary for harmonization with the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the ICAO Technical Instructions for Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG). The comment period is until October 24, 2014. PHMSA’s goal is to ensure harmonization with the above regulations for the 2015-2016 biennium.

You can follow the links at the bottom of this article to read the proposed rulemaking or comment on it at the Federal Rulemaking Portal.

Shipping Hazardous Materials by Ground in the USA certification »

The extensive docket is about 90 pages long, and covers a number of areas for change.

HMR Significant Updates HM-215M:

  • Marine pollutants – the NPRM would exempt packages of small packages of marine pollutants (up to 5 Liters or 5 kilograms) from the HMR, due to the low risk for these goods in transport. Also, Chlorotoluenes will be removed from the List of Marine Pollutants (Appendix B), and new entries will be added.
  • Minimum size requirements will be established for the OVERPACK and SALVAGE markings. These would have to be in letters at least 12 mm (1/2 inch) high.
  • Entries for adsorbed gases will be added to the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT), as well as a definition of adsorbed gas.
  • Further harmonization attempts will be made to the constantly changing requirements for transport of lithium batteries. To harmonize with the ICAO Technical Instructions, exempted packages of lithium metal batteries not packed with equipment must display the Cargo Aircraft Only label, and clarification will be made regarding the statements that must be provided on an additional document for exempted batteries.
  • An effort will be made to harmonize the U.S. definition of “non-bulk packaging” with the UN version, particularly with respect for packages exceeding 450 Liters but with low total weight of solid hazardous materials.
  • Entries for Air bag inflators, Air bag modules and Seat-belt pretensioners (UN0503 and UN3268) will be replaced by UN0503, Safety devices, pyrotechnic, and UN3268, Safety devices, electrically initiated.
  • Packaging specifications for bundles of cylinders will be updated. Certification markings for intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and large packagings will be updated.

Comments on the NPRM may be made on the Federal Rulemaking portal,, or by other methods given in the NPRM.

The docket itself can be found here:

Do you have any questions regarding HM-215M, and how it will affect your organization? Please contact ICC Compliance Center online or over the phone at 888-442-9628 (U.S.) or 888-977-4834 (Canada), and ask for one of our regulatory specialists.



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