The Spring 2011 Regulatory Agenda: PHMSA

Posted on 7/8/2011 by James Griffin

On July 7, 2011, Federal regulatory agencies published their semiannual regulatory agendas and regulatory plans as required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act [5 U.S.C. 602]. The agenda is where agencies summarize all current or projected rulemakings and review existing regulations and completed actions. While the detailed agendas are no longer published in the Federal Register, the complete Unified Agenda (for all departments and agencies) is now available online at
Below are significant rulemaking updates from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
To learn more about a rule or to read the full agenda, go to the Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, select the agency you are looking for from the drop-down menu, and look for the entry with the matching Rule Identifier Number (RIN). Dates indicated in the agenda are the agency’s earliest possible date of issuance.
Department of Transportation
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Hazardous Materials: Enforcement Regulations (RIN: 2137-AE13) On March 2 of this year (76 FR 11570), the DOT issued regulations to establish procedures to implement the DOT’s authority to open packages believed to contain hazardous materials; remove such packages from transportation; gather information; order the package transported to a facility for examination and analysis; obtain assistance from qualified persons; and issue emergency restrictions, prohibitions, recalls, or out-of-service orders to abate an imminent hazard. This rule went into effect on May 3, 2011, but it is currently the subject of several administrative appeal petitions.
  • Hazardous Materials: Revision of Special Permits Procedures (RIN: 2137-AE57) On January 5, 2011 (76 FR 454), PHMSA promulgated new rules revising the special permits procedures in the Hazardous Material Regulations to provide for an online application form and to require an applicant to provide sufficient information about its operations to enable the Agency to evaluate the applicant’s fitness and the safety impact of the operations authorized in the special permit.
  • Hazardous Materials: Limiting the Use of Electronic Devices by Highway (RIN: 2137-AE63)  As part of an Agency-wide effort to improve public safety and prevent distracted driving, PHMSA has implemented (February 28, 2011; 76 FR 10771) regulations to restrict the use of electronic devices by drivers operating a placarded motor vehicle.
  • Hazardous Materials: Revisions to Requirements for the Transportation of Lithium Batteries (RIN: 2137-AE44) This rulemaking would amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to comprehensively address the safe transportation of lithium cells and batteries. The intent of the rulemaking is to strengthen the current regulatory framework by imposing more effective safeguards, including design testing to address risks related to internal short circuits, and enhanced packaging, hazard communication, and operational measures for various types and sizes of lithium batteries in specific transportation contexts. The rulemaking responds to several recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. A final rule may appear as early as August 2011.
  • Hazardous Materials; Combination Packages Containing Liquids Intended for Transport by Aircraft (RIN: 2137-AE32)  Incident data and testing conducted on behalf of DOT indicate many combination packagings authorized for the transportation of hazardous materials may not withstand conditions normally incident to air transportation. PHMSA is considering measures to reduce the incidence of package failures and to minimize the consequences of failures should they occur. This rulemaking would require additional measures to verify packaging integrity, such as performance testing, and revisions to packaging requirements, such as the addition of liners or absorbent material. A final rule may be published in September 2011.
  • Hazardous Materials: Safety Requirements for External Product Piping on Cargo Tanks Transporting Flammable Liquids (Wetlines) (RIN: 2137-AE53) The rulemaking would prohibit flammable liquids from being transported in unprotected product piping (wetlines) on existing and newly manufactured DOT specification cargo tank motor vehicles. A final rule is expected shortly.
  • Hazardous Materials: Adoption of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section XII and the National Board Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors Code (RIN: 2137-AE58) During the next year, PHMSA will issue an NPRM to update the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) to incorporate current consensus standards on the design, construction, and maintenance of cargo tank motor vehicles and cryogenic portable tanks.

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping

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