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New Proposals in Hazmat Regulation

Posted on 8/21/2014 by James Griffin

Reverse Logistics
On August 11, at 79 FR 46748, the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (DOT PHMSA) proposed to revise the Hazardous Material Regulations applicable to return shipments of certain hazardous materials by motor vehicle.
Hazmat “reverse logistics”—how retailers, manufacturers, and distributors deal with product returns of hazardous materials—is a pressing issue in hazmat safety. When a customer returns an item that contains or is itself hazmat, personnel otherwise unfamiliar with the Hazardous Materials Regulations may be tasked with preparing the shipment for transport. 
Specifically, DOT PHMSA proposes to:
  • Define the term “reverse logistics” as the process of returning goods to or between a vendor, distributor, manufacturer, or other person for the purpose of returning for credit, recalling product, replacement, or similar reason (for instance, from a retail or wholesale outlet). 
  • Establish a new section 49 CFR 173.157 to provide an exception for materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of ”reverse logistics.” In this exception, PHMSA proposes to clearly identify 1) the hazardous materials authorized, 2) packaging, 3) hazard communication, and 4) training requirements applicable to reverse logistics shipments.
  • Expand the existing exception at 49 CFR 173.159 for reverse logistics shipments of used automobile batteries that are being shipped from a retail facility to a recycling center.
This notice of proposed rulemaking follows an advanced notice and request for information published on July 5, 2012 (77 FR 39662). PHMSA will be receiving public comments on this proposal until October 10, 2014, under Docket Number PHMSA-2011-0143(HM-253). 
Standard Operating Procedures for Evaluating Special Permits and Approvals 
On August 12, at 79 FR 47047, the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (DOT PHMSA) proposed to address certain matters identified in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) related to the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety’s Approvals and Permits Division.
Specifically, DOT PHMSA proposes to incorporate its established special permit and approva policies into a new Appendix A to 49 CFR Part 107, including:
  • Clear criteria for the technical completeness of applications;
  • Standard operating procedures for evaluating whether special permits and approvals provide an equivalent level of safety;
  • Standard operating procedures and criteria for evaluating the “fitness” of applicants to fulfill their obligations; and
  • Revised definitions for the terms special permit and approval:
    • Special Permit means a document issued by the Associate Administrator, the Associate Administrator’s designee, or as otherwise prescribed in the HMR, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 5117 permitting a person to perform a function that is not otherwise permitted under the Hazardous Material Regulations.
    • Approval means a written authorization, including a competent authority approval, issued by the Associate Administrator, the Associate Administrator’s designee, or as otherwise prescribed in the HMR, to perform a function for which prior authorization by the Associate Administrator is required under the Hazardous Material Regulations.
This proposal is another step in a multi-year program to standardize and streamline PHMSA’s special permit and approval program. PHMSA will be receiving public comments on this proposal until October 14, 2014, under Docket Number PHMSA-2012-493(HM-233E). 
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Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, MAP 21, new rules

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