Congress Weighs In on DOT’s Enhanced Enforcement Authority

Posted on 7/19/2012 by Roger Marks

In the MAP 21 highway bill passed earlier this month, Congress further defined the DOT’s Enhanced Enforcement Authority, including placing limits how and when that authority can be used.  The Enhanced Enforcement Authority, or “Package-Open Rule,” was published as a final rule in the Federal Register on March 2, 2011, and authorizes agents of the DOT to open, inspect, and seize packages in transit they suspect may contain undeclared or improperly packaged hazmat.
The rights and responsibilities of DOT agents are outlined in U.S. law at 49 USC 5121.  In the MAP 21 bill, Congress amended this section of the law to include new responsibilities pertaining to agents’ exercising the enhanced enforcement authority.  The law as amended states that before opening or inspecting a package in transit, the agent must “provide reasonable notice” to the person responsible for the package of the following:
  1. The agent’s intention to open and inspect a package
  2. The agent’s findings
  3. What actions will be taken as a result of non-compliance (if any is found)
[49 USC 5121 Sec. 33009 Inspections]
More Regulations Needed, Says Congress
The MAP 21 highway bill also lays out some questions about the procedures agents will follow when exercising enhanced enforcement authority. Congress directed the DOT to develop by July 13, 2013 new regulations to ensure the following:
  1. The safe and expeditious return to transportation of time- and temperature-sensitive materials;
  2. Noncompliant packages that present an imminent hazard are placed out-of-service until the condition is corrected; 
  3. Noncompliant packages that do not present a hazard are moved to their final destination; and
  4. Appropriate training and equipment for inspectors.
  5. The proper closure of packaging in accordance with the hazardous material regulations.
Lion Technology will continue to monitor this ongoing rulemaking and will share the latest news and notes with the regulated community here at LionBlog.

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

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