Report on PHMSA’s Pre-UN Public Meeting

Posted on 6/9/2011 by James Griffin

[EDITED: 6/10/11 10:19 AM]
On June 8, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (DOT-PHMSA) held a public meeting to consider proposals for the 18th Revised Edition of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations, which will be implemented on January 21, 2015. 

The DOT discussed 21 working papers that will be presented at the next meeting of the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Each working paper proposed one or more changes to the UN Model Regulations. A working paper is roughly equivalent to a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register; it indicates that the regulating authorities are considering making certain changes to the rules, but the measure can be blocked or amended before it is officially adopted. 
The remainder of this posting will summarize these working papers and briefly present the Department of Transportation’s position
1 – (Spain) Amendment to section
The Spanish delegation to the sub-committee proposes amendments to section of the UN Model Regulations regarding protective devices for portable tanks. The U.S. opposes this proposal, considering the existing performance criteria sufficient and the proposal overly proscriptive.
2 – (Spain) Proposal of harmonization for the transport of dangerous goods by sea and by road
The Spanish delegation to the sub-committee proposes extending certain requirements for freight containers holding Class 1 explosive materials to all classes of dangerous goods. The U.S. opposes this proposal, finding it overly proscriptive in an area where existing performance criteria are sufficient. The U.S. does counter-propose to waive these Class 1 requirements for Division 1.4 materials.
3 – (Switzerland) Packing Instruction P906
The Swiss delegation proposed to amend Packing Instruction P906 to explicitly authorize the use of UN specification packagings for certain materials and articles containing polychlorinated biphenyls. The U.S. supports this proposal. 
4 – (International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA)) Amendment of Packing Instruction P404
The International Council of Chemical Associations proposes to amend Packing Instruction P404 to authorize additional packaging options for certain pyrophoric solid materials. The DOT supports this proposal as it is consistent with the U.S. Hazardous Material Regulations and provides a sufficient level of safety.
5 – (United Kingdom) Descriptions of labels, placards, symbols, markings, and marks
The United Kingdom has resubmitted a set of detailed possible editorial amendments intended to clarify and standardize the descriptions of markings and labels with the goal of facilitating easier adherence and enforcement of the Dangerous Goods Regulations. 

The U.S. is not opposed in principle to this effort, as current variations in the description of hazard communications between the various modal regulations have been known to lead to arbitrary enforcement in the field. However, PHMSA stated that while it would like to see more clarity on this issue, the Agency is concerned that any arbitrary changes to the regulations could create more confusion that it solves.
6 – (United Kingdom) Amendments to the Guiding Principles-Packagings
The United Kingdom has also submitted a working paper to begin the development of guiding principles for Large Packagings. This is a long-term developing action that has no rule changes immediately associated with it. 
7 – (United Kingdom) Vibration tests for IBCs over 1,500 kg gross mass carrying liquids
Another paper from the United Kingdom identifies difficulties with the requirements to carry out vibration testing for large intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). While the U.S. recognizes the inherent difficulties in testing the vibration resistance of 1,500 kg packagings, it does not support the removal of the testing requirement from the Model Regulations and invites the regulated community to provide data and other comments. 
8 – (United Kingdom) Assignment of Packing Group I substances to various UN entries. Differences between the UN Model Regulations and RID/ADR/AND
In order to harmonize the UN Model Regulations with the European ADR/RID/AND modal regulations, this working paper from the UK delegation proposes to allow the assignment of Packing Group I to UN Numbers 1169 (extracts), 1197 (flavorings), 1266 (perfumery products), 1286 (rosin oil), and 1287 (rubber solution). 
The U.S. is not opposed to this change, but would oppose any attempt to extend existing packaging exceptions for these UN numbers to consignments of PG I materials. 
9 – (United Kingdom) Limited quantity limit for asbestos of UN 2212 and UN 2590
The last paper from the UK proposes to authorize shipments of white asbestos (UN 2590) for transport as a limited quantity in amounts up to 5 kilograms. Currently, the UN Model Regulations do not permit UN 2590 as a limited quantity. This change would conform to provisions already in the HMR, so the U.S. has no objection.
10 – (Republic of Korea) Amendments to the proper shipping name for UN 1263
The Korean delegation submitted a proposal to eliminate the PSNProper Shipping Name “PAINT” due to supply-chain difficulties faced by packages that contain both “paint” and “paint related materials” and are marked accordingly. 
As the emergency response and other hazard communication requirements for both paint and paint related materials are substantially similar, the U.S. has for some time permitted shipper’s to describe packages that contain both materials as either one or the other. 
While the U.S. would support a special provision codifying this allowance, the DOT opposes the elimination of the PSNProper Shipping Name “Paint.” As many shipments of paint and paint-related materials are currently managed as limited quantities and therefore do not require PSNProper Shipping Name markings, it is unclear what effect this proposal would have on existing practices.
11 – (Austria and Germany) Packagings with a capacity exceeding 450 liters – section (e)
This joint proposal from Austria and Germany would amend the definition of “large packaging” and make other changes to Chapter 6, “PS”Packaging Specifications.” At the June 8 meeting, representatives from PHMSA were uncertain what goals these changes were intended to effect and are waiting for the Geneva meeting to form an opinion.
12 – (Germany) Prevention of dangerous electrostatic discharge
Under the current version of the UN Model Regulations, shippers are instructed to ground Intermediate-Bulk-Containers (IBCs) during filling, storage, and emptying in order to prevent hazardous electrostatic discharge. This paper proposes to extend this grounding requirement to all packages of all dangerous goods. 
The U.S. is not opposed in principle to language encouraging shippers and transporters to take precautions against electrostatic discharge when necessary, but would like to avoid an overly proscriptive approach that creates additional burdens with no improvement on safety.
13 – (Germany) Mass of salvage packagings
When a package of dangerous goods is leaking or damaged during transportation, it is placed in a salvage packaging and transported to a secure location for evaluation. This proposal would like to add language to the instructions for salvage packagings reminding transporters to account for the tare weight of the original nonconforming container when placing it in a salvage packaging.
The U.S. is not opposed, but indicated it would like more information before supporting the proposal. 
14 – (Japan) New Proper Shipping Name for asymmetric capacitors
This working paper from the Japanese delegation proposes including a new PSNProper Shipping Name for asymmetric capacitors. The U.S. is already in the process of catching up the HMR to advances in capacitor technology and counter-proposes to ensure that any new provisions for capacitors are generic, rather than creating a new set of classifications and packing instructions for each new technical variation that gets invented. 
15 – (Germany) Transport of damaged lithium batteries
This proposal would add a new Proper Shipping Name for damaged lithium batteries and require Competent Authority Approval for any packagings used to transport damaged batteries. Notably lacking from the proposal is any definition of “damaged.” The U.S., with the support of COSTHA and PRBA, is opposed to this proposal, preferring to address any alternative requirements for damaged batteries in a special provision. 
16 – (EIGA) Marking on gas cylinders
The current version of the UN Model Regulations specifies that UN identification numbers must be marked on the exterior of every package that contains dangerous goods and that the marking must be at least 12 mm in height. The European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) considers this requirement to be inappropriate for gas cylinders and proposes a 6 mm minimum height for cylinder markings. 
The U.S. is not opposed to this proposal; similar provisions are already included in the HMR, but phrased narratively in a performance-oriented manner rather than as a prescribed size. The DOT solicited information from the CGA and other representatives of regulated entities and would prefer to defer to consensus standard.
17 – (ICPP) Marking of the date of manufacture with packagings of types 1H and 3H
The International Confederation of Plastics Packaging Manufacturers (ICCP) proposes minor changes to the date of manufacture marking on large plastic containers. The DOT is not opposed to this change. 
18 – (DGAC) Application of the air LQ mark
The Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC) has requested that the sub-committee clarify the usage of the air-eligibility marking in the new limited quantity provisions, the “Y” marking. Specifically, the DGAC would like the regulations to authorize a package to display the “Y” marking even if it is not intended for air transport, as long as the package meets all applicable requirements for air transport (quantity limitations, durability, etc.) but does not display hazard labels or show shipping papers.
 The U.S. supports this proposal. 
19 – (DGAC) Packing Instruction P 602
This proposal would include some, but not all, of the variations in the HMR for toxic-by-inhalation materials into the UN Model Regulations.
The DOT is not opposed in principal to this proposal, but considers it incomplete in its current form. 
20 – (IATA) Classification of Class 3 viscous liquids in PGPacking Group III
Under the current UN Model Regulations, there are inconsistencies in the classification or reclassification of viscous liquids under Class 3. This proposal would reorganize these exclusions and eliminate the restriction that these reclassifications only apply to consignments under 450 lliters.
The U.S. has no opinion on this proposal. But on the advice of representatives of the paint and coatings industry will attempt to preserve the 450-liter threshold, if for no other reason than to prevent the introduction of a new smaller limit.
21 – (PRBA) Special Provision 310: Packagings for large prototype and low production run lithium batteries
The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) would like to create a new special provision for large prototype and low production run lithium batteries that would authorize their transport without either competent authority approval or destructive testing. 

The U.S. is aware of the difficulties faced by battery manufacturers and will support further investigation to findpractical options for manufacturers of large batteries and low production run batteries. But, due to this proposal’slack of performance criteria for packagings, will oppose the proposal in its current form. 

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping

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