The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a final rule that, effective Nov. 9, will add to the Hazardous Materials Regulations new provisions that include the standard operating procedures and criteria used to evaluate applications for special permits and approvals. A special permit allows the performance of a function not otherwise permitted, and an approval is a written authorization to perform a function that requires prior consent. These variances, which are issued on a case-by-case basis, are designed to accommodate innovation, provide consent and allow alternatives that meet existing transportation safety standards and/or ensure hazmat transportation safety.
PHMSA believes this final rule will increase the public’s understanding of the special permit and approval application and renewal process, improve the quality of information and completeness of applications submitted, improve application processing times, promote continued safe transportation of hazardous materials, and support U.S. trade competitiveness by permitting safe and innovative hazmat transportation methods. PHMSA states that these amendments do not change previously established policies, including any inspection activities subsequent to issuance, modification or renewal of a special permit and approval.