The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is promulgating a final rule that amends the January 19, 2011 harmonization rulemaking.
The new rule does many things, but most notably, PHMSA is extending the phase out period for the square-on-point identification number marking currently used on limited quantity packages as well as further explaining the future of the ORM-D and limited quantity markings [49 CFR 172, Subpart D].
In the January 19, 2011 harmonization rulemaking, PHMSA published a final rule that revised the Hazardous Materials Regulations to align and harmonize with various international standards, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. PHMSA promulgates a harmonization rule every other year in order to ease the burden of hazmat shipments that go by different modes of transport (i.e., motor vehicle, vessel, rail, air) and to make international shipments more consistent with our domestic rules.
In this current rule, PHMSA responded to administrative appeals brought to them by different regulatory groups, provided clarifications to the harmonization rule, and corrected typographical and other minor errors.
ORM-D Markings for Limited Quantity Packages
The most significant thing to come out of this final rule concerns the “older” square-on-point ID marking for limited quantity packages. With the January 19, 2011 rulemaking, PHMSA planned to phase out the current limited quantity and consumer commodity (ORM-D) rules, and transition to the international standard for limited quantities. Initially, the DOT had planned the following phase out periods:
1. Companies shipping packages with the ORM-D, consumer commodity marking could still do so until December 31, 2013 (a 3 year period) before they would have to switch to the new limited quantity markings.
2. ORM-D-AIR shipments would only be good until December 31, 2012.
3. Companies shipping packages using the “old” limited quantity markings (which consists of a white square-on-point with the hazmat’s identification number inside) could only use that marking until December 31, 2011 (a 1 year period) before they would have to switch to the new limited quantity marking.
Several regulatory groups complained that this was unfair since the ORM-D marking received a longer phase out period. The DOT agreed that this was true, and thus, are now allowing any packages with the square-on-point limited quantity marking to be shipped until December 31, 2013 (the same as the ORM-D marking), unless the shipment is going by air.
There was also another issue raised by regulatory groups about the new limited quantity markings, specifically the ones with the “Y” in the middle.
The new “Y” limited quantity marking was designed to specify that a package can be shipped as a limited quantity by air. However, many were wondering if they could use the “Y” marking on their ground or vessel shipments. The DOT has concluded that if a package is suitable as an air limited quantity, signified by the “Y” mark, then that marking would be allowable for ground and vessel shipments. Air shipments are more stringent, so a package prepared for air would automatically meet the definition of a limited quantity by ground or vessel.
The rest of the rulemaking changes include, but are not limited to: ” Fuel cells cannot be shipped as ORM-D-AIR, ” Clarification that certain Class 1 explosives and Class 7 radioactives can be shipped as limited quantities by aircraft, ” ID 8000 can only be used for Consumer Commodities by air, and they are excepted from Class 9 prohibition, ” Division 4.3 dangerous when wet materials cannot be ORM-D, and ” A number of smaller typographical and editorial corrections.