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DOT Says Few Regulatory Changes Needed to Implement Law on Hazmat Transport Safety

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is accepting through July 22 comments on a proposed rule that would revise its regulations to address certain matters identified in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2012. This law directed the DOT to address the following hazmat transportation matters through rulemaking.

- the safe and expeditious resumption of transportation of perishable hazardous material, including radiopharmaceuticals and other medical products that may require timely delivery due to life-threatening situations

- the means by which non-compliant packages that present an imminent hazard are placed out-of- service until the condition is corrected

- the means by which non-compliant packages that do not present a hazard are moved to their final destination

- appropriate training and equipment for inspectors

- the proper closure of packaging in accordance with the hazardous material regulations

PHMSA is now proposing to amend its regulations to (a) clarify that an agent will stop or open a package containing a perishable hazardous material only after the agent has utilized appropriate alternatives, (b) incorporate its current notification procedures from the operations manual, and (c) address appropriate equipment for inspectors.

However, for the remaining HMTSIA mandates to address certain matters related to the DOT’s enhanced inspection, investigation and enforcement authority, no regulatory changes are being proposed because PHMSA believes that its current regulations, policies and operating procedures “thoroughly address the hazmat transportation matters identified by Congress as requiring additional regulations.” For example, the DOT has already established procedural regulations for opening packages, removing packages from transportation and closing packages that (a) include the definition of key terms, (b) address how DOT agents will handle non-compliant packages that present an imminent hazard as well as those that do not, (c) address when and how agents will open a package, and (d) establish procedural rules for closing packages that have been opened by an agent and ensuring the safe resumption of its transportation. The DOT has also developed an internal operations manual intended to manage the use of enhanced inspection and enforcement authority by hazmat inspectors and investigators across all modes of transportation.

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