PHMSA Update
U.S. Final Rule HM-215N on International Harmonization Delayed

Regulatory Freeze Delays Final Rule HM-215N

The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) has withdrawn a Final Rule that was intended to be published in the Federal Register on January 26.

The Final Rule, HM-215N, would have updated the U.S. “Hazardous Materials Regulations” to reflect international standards, improving U.S. abilities to import and export hazardous materials as well as reflecting improved safety standards. However, due to the new administration’s Regulatory Freeze executive memorandum, regulatory changes that had been sent to the Federal Register but not already approved must be immediately withdrawn for “review and approval” before being reissued. While the text of the Final Rule had already been published on PHMSA’s website on January 18th, it had not yet appeared in the Federal Register. The Regulatory Freeze took effect as of January 20.

Since this update is relatively non-controversial for stakeholders in the transportation industry, and will improve the ability of the United States to compete internationally, it is hoped that the review and approval time will be short. However, until the Final Rule can be published, the hazmat community must wait for the anticipated harmonization of U.S. regulations with international standards. These include proposed changes such as:

  • the adoption of the latest versions of the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the ICAO Technical Instruction’s on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and Canadian “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations”;
  • the extension of Transport Canada equivalency certificates to the U.S. portions of transborder shipments;
  • a set of new shipping descriptions for products such as polymerizable substances;
  • a new special provision for substances that require stabilization during transport, enabling the use of temperature controls when chemical stabilization becomes ineffective;
  • change in the classification and hazard communication for uranium hexafluoride; and
  • the harmonization of lithium battery transport provisions, including the new Class 9 label and Lithium Battery Handling Mark. Fortunately, these new marks have a transition period in the ICAO Technical Instructions until 2019.

Right now PHMSA is unable to confirm when they can resubmit the Final Rule. It will, it’s hoped, be soon, so U.S. companies can establish a unified set of procedures for national and international shipments.

If you have questions about these proposed changes and how they can affect your operations, please contact ICC Compliance Center at 1.888.442.9628 (USA) or 1.888.977.44834 (Canada).

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