PHMSA Increases Potential Fines for Non-Compliance

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has increased the potential penalties for failing to comply with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

Under Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), hazardous materials must be transported in accordance the rules set out in Parts 100-185 of the HMR. Failing to follow these minimum standards can result in serious risk to the public, as well as environmental and property damage. Therefore, the potential penalties for lack of compliance must be appropriate. These penalties are set by Congress, but must be reflected in the HMR itself. Civil penalties are fines; there are criminal penalties involving prison sentences for violations that are “willful or reckless”.

Penalties must be kept current, and reflect not only inflationary changes, but also the government’s concern ab that the regulations are taken seriously by stakeholders. Therefore, on July 6, 2012, the U.S. Congress revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for a “knowing violation” of the Federal hazardous material transportation law, or legal requirements under that law, such as regulations, special permits, inspectors’ orders or special approvals issued under that law. Details on these new penalties may be found in 49 U.S.C. 5123(a). The new penalties take effect on violations that occurred on or after October 1, 2012.

To follow Congress’ lead, PHMSA issued a Final Rule ([Docket No. PHMSA–2012–0257 (HM–258)], RIN 2137–AE96) on April 17, Continue Reading…

Shopping Online – A Growing Issue in Dangerous Goods Transportation

Online shopping – whether from large internet companies such as Amazon, to individual vendors on sites such as eBay – has grown, well, explosively, in the past few years. But with this growth has come a headache for shippers, receivers and regulators. How do you handle online purchases of product that may actually be classified as dangerous goods (or, in the US, as hazardous materials)?

Online shop with dangerous goods.

Often, people are not aware that common consumer products may be considered hazardous for transportation. These include:

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Cosmetics, such as nail polish remover or perfumes
  • Flammable liquids, such as paints and adhesives
  • Smoke detectors containing radioactive sources
  • Fireworks
  • Refrigerants (including those in equipment)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Goods with internal combustion engines
  • Lithium batteries, including batteries packed in or with electronic equipment

There are, of course, provisions in various regulations such as the US Hazardous Materials Regulations of 49 CFR (Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations), and Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations. Small packages of dangerous goods can often be shipped more easily under the provisions for Limited Quantities or Consumer Commodities. These provisions, however, do vary from country to country.

In addition, the regulations for shipment by air are much more stringent. Shipments by carriers who specialize in fast delivery may need to comply with the system for air transportation from ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), and IATA (International Air Transport Association). These may require additional packaging, labeling Continue Reading…