Q. Settle a bet. My co-worker says a limited quantity hazmat package doesn’t need shipping papers; I say that exception is only for consumer commodities. Who’s right?
A. You’re both a little bit right, and you’re both a little bit wrong.
In the past, only those shipments of hazardous materials packed in limited quantities AND reclassified/renamed as ORM-D/Consumer Commodity were exempt from shipping papers. Until recently, every other limited quantity package still required shipping papers for any mode of transportation.
However, PHMSA recently rewrote the rules for packaging and shipping hazardous materials packed in limited quantities, extending to them the additional reliefs from regulation (including from shipping papers) that previously only applied to ORM-D Consumer Commodity materials.
On January 19, 2011 (76 FR 3308), PHMSA promulgated the final rule “Harmonization with the United Nations Recommendations, International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, and the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” [HM-215K]. This rulemaking concluded over five years of effort to harmonize the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) with evolving international standards for limited quantity shipping.
When HM-215K went into effect on January 1, 2011, it:
- Created a new symbol for markings for limited quantity packages,
- Set a schedule for the phase-out of the ORM-D classification,
- Created a new ID8000//Consumer Commodity//Class 9//PG II classification for transport by air, and
- Extended to (almost) all limited quantity packages the various additional regulatory reliefs that traditionally only applied to ORM-D materials.
Old Consumer Commodity Packaging
If the contents of the package were: “…packaged and distributed in a form intended or suitable for sale through retail sales agencies or instrumentalities for consumption by individuals for purposes of personal care or household use,” [49 CFR 171.8] once it met the criteria above as a limited quantity, it could be further relieved from regulation, and:
- Reassigned to hazard class ORM-D
- Renamed CONSUMER COMMODITY
- Marked with the words “ORM-D CONSUMER COMMODITY”
- Instead of the original Proper Shipping Name and/or identification number
- Not labeled as hazmat
- Not documented as hazmat on shipping papers
- Except for transport by aircraft as ORM-D-AIR
- Eligible for additional relief from regulation by 49 CFR 173.156, 173.306, 175.75, and elsewhere
New Limited Quantity Packaging
The new system made only incidental changes to the types and amounts of hazardous materials authorized for exception from regulation as limited quantities. Under the new system, in place since January 1, 2011, once a hazardous material were to be packed as a limited quantity, it would:
- Be marked with the new limited quantity marking (instead of the Proper Shipping Name or identification number)
- Not require hazmat shipping papers
- Except for transport by aircraft or vessel, or
- If it were a hazardous waste, hazardous substance, or regulated marine pollutant
- Be immediately eligible for additional relief from regulation by 49 CFR 173.156, 173.306, 175.75, and elsewhere
New Consumer Commodity Packaging
While PHMSA is phasing out the hazard classification ORM-D and has already eliminated ORM-D-AIR, which were only ever used for hazardous materials renamed CONSUMER COMMODITY, the Agency has created a unique identification number ID8000 for use with that Proper Shipping Name. The ID8000, CONSUMER COMMODITY, Class 9, PG II designation and the packing instructions at 49 CFR 173.167 are intended for use only for certain air shipments. The universe of goods eligible for reclassification as ID8000 is much narrower than those that were eligible for ORM-D or ORM-D-AIR. These provisions more closely match international air regulations for aircraft consumer commodities. See ICAO TI/IATA DGR PI Y963.
ORM-D Phase-Out Period
PHMSA originally proposed a 2-year phase-out period for the ORM-D classification (1 year for ORM-D-AIR) and for the traditional limited quantity markings (UN# in diamond, etc.). The last day to use the ORM-D-AIR classification was December 31, 2012. But, after a series of hearings and appeals, PHMSA has extended the transitional period for hazmat packages marked ORM-D Consumer Commodity until December 31, 2020. Additionally, the square-on-point with ID# can continue to be used until December 31, 2014.
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