PHMSA
Correction to HMT in 49CFR

On Monday, April 25, 2016 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a correction to the 49CFR Hazardous Materials regulations in the Federal Register.

The correction states:

“In Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 100 to 177, revised as of October 1, 2015, on page 269, in § 172.101, in the Hazardous Materials Table, for the entry ‘‘Phenylmercuric compounds, n.o.s.’’ add ‘‘G’’ in the first column.”

The federal register notice can be viewed here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-25/pdf/2016-09615.pdf

The “G” in the first column of the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) identifies proper shipping names for which one or more technical names of the hazardous material must be entered in parentheses, in association with the basic description. The technical name(s) must be shown on package marking and shipping papers. Failure to comply with the corrected information can result in non-compliant shipments.

When an Ordinary Box Isn’t so Ordinary After All (HazMat Box)

We have all used a fiberboard (or cardboard as most people call it) box to ship something. It may have been a box of gifts for a friend or family member, or a package of merchandise for a client at work. Most of the time, you probably didn’t give much thought to the box other than to make sure it was sturdy enough and big enough to contain what you were shipping. For these typical kinds of shipments, that ordinary box will do just fine. HazMat (or dangerous goods) shipments, however, aren’t ordinary and neither is the box that they need to be shipped in.

The packaging industry is a science in itself, with ever evolving processes, techniques, materials, treatments, and regulations. HazMat packaging is a specialized area of packaging technology, and it has some very specific requirements that must be followed. Even though a HazMat box may look identical to a standard shipping carton, there are some significant “behind the scenes” differences between them!

  1. Material matters! When dealing with HazMat boxes, there are specific tolerances for manufacturing. The combination of materials used to make up the fiberboard has very little wiggle room once the design has been approved and certified. Changes in the material may invalidate the certification and make the boxes non-compliant.
  2. Proven performance! HazMat boxes have to be put to the test before they can be Continue Reading…
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 Continue Reading…
Reverse Logistics: When the Shipper Becomes the Receiver

PHMSA is submitting a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) to revise the Hazardous Materials Regulations applicable to return shipments of certain hazardous materials. By creating an exception from existing regulations for certain reverse logistics shipments, this NPRM offers opportunities for reduced compliance costs among hazmat shippers and carriers, without sacrificing safety. PHSMA proposes to establish a new section in the regulations to provide an exception for materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of “reverse logistics.”

The proposed definition of Reverse Logistics is:

… the process of moving goods from their final destination for the purpose of capturing value, recall, replacement, proper disposal, or similar reasons.

In addition to defining reverse logistics PHMSA is also trying to:

  • Establish regulations for the shipment of hazardous material in the reverse logistics supply chain
  • Establish clear applicability to the training requirements associated with “reverse logistics” shipments
  • Provide authorized packaging for reverse logistics shipments
  • Establish segregation requirements for reverse logistics shipments
  • Allow more flexibility for the transportation of lead acid batteries to recycling facilities

When goods are transferred from a manufacturer to a user, we call this downstream. Many hands change in-between before it lands in your own hands.  For example, Paint is manufactured at a plant, sent to a store, where it is purchased and often used by you-the downstream user. Careful thought and vast amounts of resources and dollars are set in motion Continue Reading…

PHMSA Issues a “No Pay-No Play” Regarding Civil Penalties

On August 7, 2014 DOT Secretary of Transportation announced regulations to require a person who is delinquent in paying civil penalties to cease any activity regulated under the Hazmat Law until payment has been made in full or until an acceptable payment plan has been arranged. PHMSA believes that persons who fail to comply with the Hazmat Law and fail to pay civil penalties are not fit to transport hazardous materials, as they are more likely to jeopardize public safety and/or the environment. The ruling does not apply to those filed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A summary of the rule is as follows:

Under the provisions of this final rule, the agency that issued the final order outlining the terms and outcome of an enforcement action will send the respondent a Cessation of Operations Order (COO) if payment has not been received within 45 calendar days after the payment due date or a payment plan installment date as specified in the final order. The COO would notify the respondent that it must cease hazardous materials operations on the 91st calendar day after failing to make payment in accordance with the agency’s final order or payment plan arrangement, unless payment is made. A respondent will be allowed to appeal the COO within 20 days of receipt of the order according to the procedures set forth by the agency issuing Continue Reading…

PHMSA Modifies HMR Lithium Battery Provision

PHMSA modifies HMR Lithium Battery Provision — Harmonizing with UN Model Regulations, IATA, and IMDG Provisions

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule establishing new standards for air cargo shipments of various types of lithium batteries, including packaging requirements and safeguards for power cells that have been damaged or are headed for recycling.

PHMSA, in conjunction with the FAA, is modifying the HMR regarding the transportation of lithium batteries. These changes with help to ensure that battery shipments are able to withstand transport conditions and are packaged properly to reduce the possibility of damage while in transit.

The intent of the rule making is to strengthen the current regulatory framework by imposing more effective safeguards, including design testing to address risks related to internal short circuits, and enhanced packaging, hazard communication, and operational measures for various types and sizes of lithium batteries in specific transportation contexts. The rulemaking would respond to several recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The final rule is expected be published in the Federal Register sometime in the next 10 business days. According to DOT, voluntary compliance is encouraged when the final rule is published, but compliance is mandatory beginning six months after publication, around in February, 2015.

The final rule will:

  • Enhance packaging and hazard communication requirements for lithium batteries transported by air
  • Replace equivalent lithium content with Continue Reading…
DOT Issues Emergency Provisions on Crude Oil Shipments

In the wake of a number of serious incidents involving rail transport of crude oil, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an emergency order regarding these shipments. In order to improve public safety, the DOT will require that crude oil shipments be tested to ensure accurate classification, and that rail shipments of crude oil shipments be classified as Packing Group I or II, until further notice. This order was published on February 25, 2014.

The emergency order is issued under Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0025, and can be viewed here. It establishes two main requirements for rail shipments of petroleum crude oil:

  1. Persons identified by the order must, prior to offering for transport, ensure that petroleum crude oil is properly tested and classified, as given in the Hazardous Materials Regulations of 49 CFR, Parts 172 and 173.
  2. Petroleum crude oil, UN1267, must be classified, handled and transported as Packing Group I or II; Packing Group III is forbidden during the timeframe of this order.

The order applies to all persons who offer for transportation or transport petroleum crude oil by rail in commerce within the United States. It covers organizations as well as officers and directors of organizations, employees, subcontractors and agents.


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According to the order, “[m]isclassification is one of the most dangerous mistakes to be made when dealing with hazardous materials.” Not only Continue Reading…

PHMSA Withdraws NPRM

PHMSA has decided to not move forward to amend HMR 49 CFR 171-180 that would require CMTV loaders and unloaders to perform a risk assessment prior to activities and implement safety procedures based on the results.

On March 11, 2011 PHMSA published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) based on their regulatory assessment, public comments and the completion of a supplementary policy analysis to address risks associated with loading and unloading operations. Also included in this proposal was additional training and qualification requirements for loading personnel.

PHMSA’s regulatory assessment cited “human error” as the reason for most cargo-related accidents. This decision was based on a 10 year study of CMTV incidents between 2000 and 2009. The study claimed that the human factor was attributed to inattention to detail while loading or unloading, attendance requirements, leaving valves in the open or closed position, failure to segregate incompatible materials, and improper hose connections and filling practices that result in over-pressurized CMTV’s. Over 3,500 of these incidents during the study period resulted in a total of $68 million in damages.

Public comments to the proposed amendment regarding performing risk assessments expressed concern over redundancy by facilities and carriers, as well as the record-keeping efforts for such a task, declared as “burdensome”.

Comments on PHMSA’s recommendation that operators perform an annual refresher under direct observation of actual duties and drills was strongly opposed Continue Reading…

Knock-Knock. Who’s There? PHMSA Auditors… What!?

The receptionist brings you the business cards of two PHMSA auditors and tells you they are waiting to speak to you. What do you do?

Well, after taking a deep breath, you go introduce yourself and find out why they are there. A “surprise audit” is how they respond, and you think, “OMG, how can this be happening?” Once you regain your senses, you ask them more about the process and what they wish to see. When they ask you questions, be honest; don’t try to hide things – that will only get you in trouble.

First question: Where are the training records?

If PHMSA feels that you are a hazmat employer, you will have hazmat employees. Under 49 CFR 172.700 you are required to train employees in general awareness, function specific, security and safety training. You are required to have documentation of that training. It is required every 3 years.

There are several possible violations: failure to train and/or failure to document the training.

A violation for training is easy to avoid. Keep good records, and ensure all employees who could be considered hazmat employees are retrained every three years – without question!

Second question: Where are your packaging records?

What packaging are you using? Do you have a packing instruction sheet for that package on file? Are you preparing it as the manufacture said you should? Did the manufacture 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…