DGAC Summit 2017
One of the highlights of the year, at least for those of us involved in dangerous goods regulations, is the annual summit meeting of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC). This year, it was held in Crystal City, just outside of Washington, DC, and as always had many speakers from both government and industry. Of course ICC attended, and I was graciously invited to give a couple of talks on the Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations, and to take part in a fun closing activity known as “speed-dating the regulators”.
The introductory talk was given by Brigham McCown, former deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). As a longtime political insider, he discussed the state of the department under the new administration, and how the once “sleepy little agency” was moving forward. He identified top trends in transportation such as infrastructure investment, autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, drones, and of course reducing unnecessary regulatory burden while still ensuring public safety. He mentioned that the new Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, was experienced and would help the department adapt.
Other speakers representing PHMSA included Shane Kelly, who provided an overview of upcoming changes to hazardous materials regulations, and a report on the United Nations Transport of Dangerous Goods Sub‐Committee by Steven Webb, Aaron Wiener, and Lindsey Constantino. Amy Parker of the U.S. Coast Guard covered updates to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG), Jennifer Lawless of OSHA addressed developments at the UN Subcommittee on the Globally Harmonized System, and Neil McCulloch of Labelmaster addressed changes to the upcoming air regulations in the ICAO Technical Instructions and IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. Diego Gotelli, CIQUIME, gave a fascinating overview of the complexities of shipping hazardous materials in Latin America, by tracing the difficulties in shipping a single commodity from San Antonio to Buenos Aires.
Speakers from industry also held the floor with some interesting topics. Long-time crowd favorite Gene Sanders of WETrain Consulting addressed how the complexity of the air regulations frequently led both the public and industry to send unintentional undeclared hazardous materials. A panel of international shippers and carriers Greg Allen, Torsten Helk, and DeAnne Wilson gave an enlightening look at the mysterious world of INCOterms, and how they can impact hazmat shipments.
Transport Canada representatives were unable to attend, so I was asked to provide a Canadian viewpoint. First, I spoke on upcoming changes to the Canadian TDG Regulations (thanks to Benoit Turcotte of Transport Canada for providing details). The next day, I tried to shed some light on the unique Canadian requirement called the Emergency Response Assistance Plan, or ERAP. ERAPs are not required for all dangerous goods, and the regulations make it quite complex to determine when they’re needed, and who’s responsible for arranging them.
The last day was the most fun, with the “speed dating” hour. A number of tables were set up, for various topics (US ground regulations, air, GHS, etc.), and participants had ten minutes to quiz the table guide on specific questions. These small group discussions were, as always, fast-moving and informative. My only regret was that as the leader for the Canadian table I couldn’t check out the other groups.
The Summit also includes a trade show highlighting innovations in areas such as hazmat packaging, hazard communication, and training. For the first time DGAC hosted a poster session, where participants could address specific topics of concern, advancement or even controversy. There was certainly a lot of conversation around the posters!
I’d like to thank DGAC President Vaughn Arthur and all his staff for giving me the opportunity to take part in this year’s event. DGAC has been one of the premier trade organizations dealing with dangerous goods transportation for nearly three decades. Next year will be their 30th anniversary, and if your organization can benefit from meeting with fellow industry members as well as the people who regulate us, I really suggest checking it out. Next year’s summit will be held at the same location in Crystal City, very close to Reagan National Airport.
Do you have questions about new regulations on the transport of dangerous goods? Our regulatory staff here at ICC Compliance Center at 888-442-9628 (USA) or 888-977-4483 (Canada) will be happy to help with all of your training, packaging, and labelling needs.