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PHMSA Proposes Amendments to Hazmat Regulations: Maintains Harmonization with International Standards

Posted on 8/28/2014 by James Griffin

On August 25th, at 79 FR 50742, the United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed to amend the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 100–199) to maintain alignment with evolving international standards. 
 
Public comments on the proposal must be received by October 24, 2014. A Final Rule is expected late this year or in early 2015, as the latest editions of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI), and the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods—Model Regulations (UN Model) all enter into force on January 1, 2015.
 
Specific issues addressed in this rulemaking docket include: 
 
  • Incorporate Revised Standards: In addition to incorporating-by-reference (IBR) the latest international regulations, including the IMDG Code, ICAO TI, UN Model, the International Atomic Energy Agency Safety Standards, PHMSA proposes to IBR the most recent updates to the Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR), and various International Standards Organization (ISO) standards.
  • Hazardous Materials Table: PHMSA proposes to add, revise, and remove entries in the Hazardous Materials Table at 49 CFR 172.101:
    • Revised names for asbestos materials;
    • New description “UN3268, SAFETY DEVICES electrically initiated, 9” inclusively replacing “air bag inflators,” “air bag modules,” and “seat belt pre-tensioners” identified by UN3268; 
    • New description “UN0503, SAFETY DEVICES, pyrotechnic” replacing “air bag inflators,” “air bag modules,” and “seatbelt pretensioners” identified by UN0503; 
    • Sixteen new shipping names, and associated packing provisions, for adsorbed gases; and
    • New entries for “UN3507, URANIUM HEXAFLUORIDE, RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL, EXCEPTED PACKAGE” and “UN3508 CAPACITOR, ASYMETRIC.” 
  • Provide Exceptions for Marine Pollutants: PHMSA proposes to exclude from regulation packages that contain small amounts of materials that are only marine pollutants when packed up to 5 L (1.3 gallons) or 5 kg (11 lbs.) per package. This matches existing provisions of the IMDG Code.
  • Modify the Marine Pollutant List: PHMSA periodically updates the list of regulated marine pollutants in Appendix B to 49 CFR 172.101, based on changes to the IMDG Code.
  • Clarify Various Hazard Communication Requirements: PHMSA proposes to add minimum size requirements for OVERPACK and SALVAGE markings. This matches recently adopted amendments prescribing minimum size requirements for identification number markings. Furthermore, PHMSA makes subtle amendments to the specifications for labels and placards. All these rules have a transitional period until December 31, 2016.
  • Revised Vessel Stowage Requirements: PHMSA proposes to update vessel stowage codes in Column 10B of the HMT and other provisions regarding vessel stowage, consistent with the most recent edition of the IMDG Code. 
  • Additional Entries for Adsorbed Gases: To keep pace with evolving international standards, PHMSA proposes to include seventeen new entries for “adsorbed gases” in the HMT and to make other necessary amendments for these materials (i.e., definitions, authorized packagings, safety requirements).
  • Harmonized Requirements for Lithium Batteries: PHMSA proposes to incorporate provisions for lithium batteries equivalent to Section IB of ICAO Packing Instructions 965 and 968 for large amounts of small batteries and to modify the provisions for communicating the prohibition of lithium metal batteries from passenger aircraft.
  • Expanded Definition of Non-Bulk Packaging: International authorities have recognized packagings suitable for the transport of high-volume, low-mass materials (such as air bags). PHMSA proposes to revise the definition of non-bulk packaging to include certain large single packagings that meet UN specifications.
The 18th Revised Edition of the UN Model enters into force on January 1, 2015 and includes many other changes that PHMSA is not considering. Harmonization issues NOT under consideration include: 
 
  • Damaged, Defective, and Waste Lithium Batteries: The HMR adopted provisions for these lithium batteries in a previous rulemaking.
  • Dimensions on Hazard Communication Examples: PHMSA is not adding reminders of the dimensions to the existing images of hazmat placards and labels, as the minimum dimensions are already provided in the text of the HMR. 
  • Flash Composition: PHMSA is not adopting the UN Model’s new criteria for the “flash composition” of a firework, because work on the HSL Flash Composition test is ongoing.
  • Radioactive Materials: The most recent UN Model and IAEA Standards include many changes for transporting radioactive materials. PHMSA is prohibited from incorporating most of them without coordination with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Further domestic harmonization will be addressed in a future joint rulemaking.
  • Discarded Packages: PHMSA is not adopting the new international shipping description “UN3509, PACKAGING DISCARDED, EMPTY, UNCLEANED” as existing provisions in the HMR already adequately address the shipment of empty uncleaned packagings. 
  • Used Medical Devices: PHMSA is not adopting the 2015 ICAO TI’s new exception for used medical devices. Existing provisions of the HMR satisfactorily address the hazards presented by used medical devices.
  • Coolants, Conditioners, and Asphyxiates: The 18th Edition of the UN Model will make various editorial amendments to the provisions for packages and cargo transport units containing asphyxiates used for cooling/conditioning. As PHMSA did not adopt these regulations when they were included in the 17th Edition of the UN Model, the Agency won’t’ adopt these amendments either.
  • Gas Cartridge and Fuel Cell Testing: As the HMR already adequately address the hazards of these items, PHMSA won’t adopt the alternatives authorized in the 18th Edition of the UN Model.
 

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, lithium batteries, new rules

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