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MAP-21 Highway Bill Wrap-Up

Posted on 8/17/2012 by James Griffin

In today’s fourth and final installment of LionBlog’s coverage of the recently signed MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) highway bill, we will discuss the last remaining hazmat–related portion of the bill – miscellaneous amendments made to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).
Congress added a new section to the HMR authorizing the DOT to implement a research and development program to find new technologies that can increase the safety and security of hazmat transportation. The DOT is not required to perform this R&D; the new section simply gives them the authorization to do so.
For some things, Congress set deadlines for the DOT to reach its 2013–14 goals. The deadlines outlined in the MAP-21 bill are as follows:
By January 1, 2013—The DOT must assess its systems for collecting, analyzing, reporting, and using data from hazmat incidents and accidents.
Next, the DOT must use this assessment to develop an “action plan” to improve data collection, analysis, and reporting by March 1, 2013.
By July 1, 2013—The DOT will report to Congress regarding the implementation of a “Hazmat Safety Permit program.” This permit program affects carriers of certain high–consequence hazardous materials like explosives, radioactives, and poison gases. The DOT will then have 1 year to amend the Hazmat Safety Permit Program based on the recommendations in its report to Congress.
By July 1, 2013—The DOT will report to Congress on the safety to “wetlines” in hazmat transportation. “Wet lines” are hoses and pipes connected to a tanker truck that contain some residue of a hazardous material like fuel.
Congress made it clear that the DOT may NOT make any new regulations pertaining to hazmat wetlines until July 2014
By January 1, 2014—The DOT must set uniform standards for training and evaluating the performance of hazmat investigators/inspectors, including:
  • “How to collect, analyze, and publish findings from inspections and investigations of accidents or incidents”
  • “How to identify noncompliance with regulations issued under chapter 51 of title 49 U.S.C. and take the appropriate enforcement action”
Looking further down the road, by July 1, 2014, the DOT will conduct pilot programs for electronic shipping papers. At least one of these pilot programs must be conducted in a rural area, and the DOT will consult with organizations representing hazmat ground, air, rail, and vessel shippers and hazmat shipping employees. [Sec. 33008. (a)(1) and (2)]
The plan is to develop a “Paperless Hazard Communications System” that will use “advanced communications methods, such as wireless communications devices, to convey hazard information between all parties in the transportation chain. . . .” [Sec. 33005 (d)]
Learn how recent changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations will affect your shipping team! For the most current, accurate training available, enroll in Lion’s Ground Shipper, Air Shipper, and Vessel Shipper training programs today.

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, MAP 21, new rules

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