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Hazmat Regulations to be Harmonized with International Standards

Monday, August 25, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is accepting through Oct. 24 comments on a proposed rule that would harmonize the Hazmat Regulations with recent changes to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, and the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods—Model Regulations. PHMSA states that if these amendments are not adopted by Jan. 1, 2015, the date most of the international standards changes take effect, U.S. companies will be at an economic disadvantage and forced to comply with a dual system of regulations. On the other hand, the benefits of adopting these amendments include enhanced transportation safety resulting from the consistency of domestic and international hazard communication, continued access to foreign markets by U.S. manufacturers of hazardous materials, cost savings, and lighter regulatory compliance burdens for shippers engaged in domestic and international commerce.

According to PHMSA, the more noteworthy changes in this proposed rule include the following.

- incorporates by reference the newest versions of various international hazmat standards and adopts updated International Standards Organization standards

- amends the Hazardous Materials Table to add, revise or remove certain proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, bulk packaging requirements, and passenger and cargo aircraft maximum quantity limits

- exempts from the HMR small packages of hazardous material that are regulated only because of the presence of one or more marine pollutants, thus simplifying the current exceptions for marine pollutants and reducing impediments to multi-modal transport of these goods

- modifies the list of marine pollutants in Appendix B to 172.101, which is used as the basis for regulating substances toxic to the aquatic environment

- requires the OVERPACK and SALVAGE markings to be at least 12 mm (.47 inches) high (a permanently marked salvage package or overpack would be allowed to remain in service with its existing marks regardless of whether the identification number markings meet the minimum size requirements)

- revises and adds vessel stowage codes to provide additional guidance on the loading and stowage of various materials

- includes 17 new entries for adsorbed gases in the HMT and adds a definition for adsorbed gas, authorized packagings and safety requirements

- revises rules on the transportation of lithium batteries, including by requiring a “CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY” label on packages containing small lithium metal batteries not packed in or with equipment

- revises the definition of non-bulk packaging by adding bags and boxes conforming to the applicable requirements for specification packagings in subpart L of part 178 if they have a maximum net mass of 400 kg (882 pounds) or less

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