HMR Aligns with 2009 International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safe Transport of Radioactive Material

PHMSA is making changes to the DOT 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations, aligning with the 2009 IAEA standards involving the safe transportation of radioactive material (Safety Requirements, No. TS-R-1). These changes are set forth to ensure public safety aligns with global regulations regarding classification, packaging and hazard communication of Class 7 material. International regulations for the transport of radioactive material have been published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1961.

These regulations have been widely adopted into national regulations, as well as into modal regulations, such as the 49 CFR, IATA and IMDG. Regulatory control of shipments of radioactive material is independent of the material’s intended application.

The objective of the regulations is to protect people and the environment from the effects of radiation during the transport of radioactive material.

Protection is achieved by:

  • containment of radioactive contents;
  • control of external radiation levels;
  • prevention of criticality; and
  • prevention of damage caused by heat.

The fundamental principle applied to the transport of radioactive material is that the protection comes from the design of the package, regardless of how the material is transported. In the USA one percent of the 300 million packages of hazardous material shipped each year contain radioactive materials. Of this, about 250,000 contain radioactive wastes from US nuclear power plants, and 25 to 100 packages contain used nuclear fuel. DOT (PHMSA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) jointly regulate the safe transportation of Class 7 Continue Reading…

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…

No Harmonization for Combustible Liquids in the US

On May 30, 2012, the DOT rescinded an April 2010 ANPRM regarding Combustible Liquids. The DOT was soliciting comments whether to consider harmonization of the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) applicable to the transport of combustible liquids with the international transportation standards as seen in the UN Recommendations.

The ANPRM was to invite public comments on the amendment to the HMR, and make recommendations on how to revise, clarify or relax requirements to facilitate transport and still ensure safety.

Under the HMR, when packaged in non-bulk packagings, a material with a flash point of 100 -140 oF may be reclassed as combustible liquids and are not subject to the HMR when transported by highway or rail. These materials ARE regulated as flammable liquids when transported by vessel under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code and by aircraft under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions (ICAO Technical Instructions). In addition, there are some exemptions for combustible liquids when transported domestically in bulk quantities.

The classification system in the UN Recommendations has no combustible liquid category or hazard class. The domestic regulation of these materials is in conflict and may be confusing to both domestic and international shippers and carriers of flammable and combustible liquid shipments.

The Results are In

The majority of the commenters opposed harmonization and elimination of the combustible liquid classification and expressed support for the non-bulk and bulk Continue Reading…

Training awareness for the various modes of transport

Part 171.1 of 49 CFR discusses applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions. These functions include pre transportation activity involved in identifying and preparing hazardous materials shipment. It is the duty of each hazmat employer to comply with the applicable requirements of the regulations and to thoroughly instruct each hazmat employee.

In addition, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) includes provisions that acceptance staff be able to detect and identify hazardous materials that may be found in baggage. Found in each of these regulations are training requirements to inform individuals of the risks involved and provide a detailed understanding of the regulations.

To illustrate the continuing need for compliance awareness and training, the FAA is proposing to fine a Florida company $168,000 for offering for transport a soldering iron in passenger cargo that contained butane fuel. The company allegedly offered the material for transport without the proper classification, packaging and labeling requirements in the regulations.

Training and the awareness provided gives employers and employees the knowledge to be current, compliant and reduce the associated risks for the company and public at large.