August 25, 2014: (NPRM)(HM215M) Hazardous Materials: Harmonization With International Standards (RRR)

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is proposing to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations in order to maintain alignment with international standards. PHMSA plans to do this by incorporating various amendments that would include changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations and vessel stowage requirements. 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 have made these revisions necessary.
The Department of Transportation will be accepting comments on this proposed rule until October 24, 2014. To read the proposed rule in full and to obtain the instructions on how and where to submit your comments please visit Federal Register: Hazardous Materials: Harmonization With International Standards (RRR)

August 12, 2014: (NPRM) (HM233E) Special Permit and Approvals Standard Operating Procedures and Evaluation Process

PHMSA is addressing certain matters that have been identified in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Act of 2012 related to the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety’s Approvals and Permits Division. The goal is to revise the regulations to include the standard operating procedures and criteria used to evaluate applications for special permits and approvals without changing previously established special permit and approval policies. PHMSA is also striving to provide clarity regarding what conditions need to be satisfied to promote completeness of the applications submitted. Applications that are submitted with all of the required information greatly reduces processing delays and further facilitates the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce while maintaining an appropriate level of safety.
Comments regarding the proposed rule must be received by October 14, 2014.
For information on how to submit your comments and to read the proposed rule in full visit: Hazardous Materials: Special Permit and Approvals Standard Operating Procedures and Evaluation Process

August 14, 2014: Transportation Safety Board of Canada Plans News Conference Next Week on Lac-Megantic Derailment

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is holding a news conference on August 19 to release its investigation report from the July 2013 Lac-Megantic derailment. The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway derailment, which killed 47 people and destroyed more than 30 buildings, was the fourth deadliest in Canadian history. The investigation has been ongoing for more than a year. Fortress Investment Group, LLC, who purchased the MMA’s lines in the United States and Canada, voluntarily agreed not to move any crude oil or hazardous materials through Lac-Megantic until at least 2016.

Read the full article: Central Maine & Quebec: A new railroad aiming for a new business approach

August 11, 2014: (NPRM) (HM253) PHMSA Issues NPRM on Reverse Logistics

PHMSA is proposing a revision to the Hazardous Materials Regulations in regards to return shipments of certain hazardous materials by motor vehicle. The revision would include a definition for reverse logistics for hazardous materials that are being returned to, or between, a vendor, distributor, manufacturer or other person for the purpose of returning for a credit, product recall, product replacement or similar reason. PHMSA would like to establish a new section within the regulations that would provide an exception for materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of reverse logistics. The exception would clearly identify the hazardous materials authorized, packaging, hazard communication and training requirements applicable to reverse logistics shipments. The rule making would also expand an existing exception for reverse logistics shipments of used automobile batteries that are being shipped from a retail facility to a recycling center.
PHMSA will be accepting comments on this proposed rule until October 10, 2014.

Read the entire proposed rule and view the instructions to submit your comments please visit Federal Register – Hazardous Materials: Reverse Logistics (RRR)

August 7, 2014: (FR) (HM258A) PHMSA Published Final Rule on Failure to Pay Civil Penalties

PHMSA has published a final rule that would prohibit anyone who fails to pay a civil penalty or fails to abide by a payment agreement from performing activities regulated by the Hazardous Materials Regulations until the payment has been made. This final rule applies, generally, to penalties assessed by the four DOT operating administrations that enforce the HMR. Those agencies are FAA, FMCSA, FRA and PHMSA.
Under the provisions of the ruling, 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 days after the payment was due. The COO would notify the respondent that it must cease hazardous materials operations on the 91st calender day after failing to make payment in accordance with the agency’s final order or payment plan arrangement, unless payment is made. The respondent will then be allowed to appeal the COO within 20 days of the receipt of the order.
However, these agencies caution regulated entities not to construe the right to appeal a COO as an opportunity to re-argue the merits of the penalty assessment. These agencies believe that regulated entities have had ample opportunity to address the merits of any proposed penalty assessment at earlier stages in the agencies’ enforcement process. The only information that would be sufficient enough to prevent the prohibition on hazardous material operations after nonpayment of penalties would be proof of payment, proof of bankruptcy debtor status and an inability to pay or Emergency Stay issued by a Federal District Court with jurisdiction over such matters.
The final rule will be effective September 8, 2014.

Hazardous Materials: Failure To Pay Civil Penalties

August 7, 2014: (FR) PHMSA Publishes Final Rule on Lithium Batteries

PHMSA has published its final rule on docket HM-224F which makes changes to the HMR regarding the transportation of lithium batteries. The ruling revises the hazard communication and packaging provisions and harmonises the Hazardous Materials Regulations with the UN Model Regulations, ICAO Technical Instructions and IMDG Code. The changes that were made have been based on proposals contained in an NPRM issued in January 2010 and incorporates subsequent changes to the international provisions. The final rule will take effect six months after it is published in the Federal Register.

PHMSA-2009-0095 (HM-224F); Transportation of Lithium Batteries, NPRM

August 7, 2014: (NPRM) HM-251: PHMSA Releases Final and Proposed Rules

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published two proposed rulemakings relating to the transport of flammable liquids by rail cars. The NPRM, docket HM-251, defines high hazard flammable trains and proposed a several design and operational specifications. The ANPRM, docket HM-251 B, is seeking comments on proposals to extend the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans high hazard flammable trains (HHFT). Comments on both proposals will be accepted until September 30, 2014.
PHMSA-2014-0105 (HM-251B): Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

PHMSA-2012-0082 (HM-251): Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

August 6, 2014: (FR)(HM224F) PHMSA Issues Final Rule Revising Requirements for the Transportation of Lithium Batteries

PHMSA has issued a final rule concerning the requirements governing the transportation of lithium batteries and cells. This ruling revises hazard communication and packaging provisions. PHMSA clarified that all lithium batteries offered for transport to, from and through the United States in accordance with the Canadian TDG regulations also comply with the appropriate requirements of the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Some of the important points of this final rule to are:
1. Replaces equivalent lithium content with Watt-hours for lithium ion cells and batteries – definition for Watt-hour has been added
2. Adopts separate definitions and shipping descriptions for lithium metal batteries and lithium ion batteries
3. Adds a definition for short-circuit
4. Revises provisions for the transport of small and medium lithium cells and batteries including cells and batteries packed with, or contained in equipment
5. Revises the requirements for the transport of low production and prototype lithium cells and batteries for disposal or recycling
6. Harmonizes the provisions for the transport of low production and prototype lithium cells and batteries with the ICAO Technical Instructions and the IMDG Code
7. Adopts new provisions for the transport of damaged, defective and recalled lithium batteries

In addition, PHMSA stated that it is not adopting provisions proposed in the NPRM to:
1. Modify provisions for what constitutes a change to a battery design in the UN Manual of Tests Criteria
2. Require lithium cells and batteries to be marked with an indication that the cell or battery design passed each of the appropriate tests outlined in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria
3. Limit the locations on board aircraft where shipments of lithium cells and batteries could be stowed

View the complete ruling

August 1, 2014: (NPRM) (HM251) PHMSA Issued Proposed Rules for High Hazard Flammable Materials Transported by Rail

On August 1, 2014 PHMSA, in coordination with the FRA, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations by proposing the following:

1. New operational requirements for ‘high-hazard flammable trains’ transporting a large volume of Class 3 flammable liquids
– including braking controls and speed restrictions
– HHFT (high-hazard flammable train) is defined as a train compromised of 20 or more carloads of Class 3 flammable liquid

2. Improvements in tank car standards
– phase out the use of DOT-111 tank cars within two years for shipment of packing group 1 flammable liquids unless the tank car is
retrofitted to comply with new tank car design standards

3. Revision of the general requirements for offerors to ensure proper classification and characterization of mined gases and liquids
– a classification and testing program for mined gases and liquids

Read the entire proposed rule

August 1, 2014: (ANPRM) (HM251B) PHMSA Issued ANPRM Seeking Comments on Revisions That Would Expand Applicability of OSRPs

PHMSA, in cooperation with the FRA, has issued an ANPRM seeking comments on potential revisions that would expand the applicability of the comprehensive oil spill response plans (OSRPs) to high hazard flammable trains (HHFTs) based on the amount of crude oil that is being transported on the train. An OSRP is intended to ensure that personnel are properly trained and available, equipment is in place to respond to oil spills, and that procedures are established before spills occur so that required notifications and appropriate response actions will follow quickly after a spill. Current standards only require an OSRP when oil is in a quantity greater than 42,000 gallons per package. PHMSA believes that the number of railroads that actually have a comprehensive OSPR is very low or non-existent.
PHMSA is requesting detailed comments to 9 specific questions by September 30, 2014. Read the entire ANPRM and view the questions here