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Report From DGAC Conference & Expo

Posted on 11/8/2011 by Roseanne Bottone

[Editor's Note: Lion Technology Inc. instructor Roseanne Bottone is blogging from the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC) Conference & Hazardous Materials Transportation Exposition. Daily, she will provide her observations and insights from the conference in order to keep our readers up-to-date with the latest regulatory news.]
 
My students often ask me what I do for Lion when I’m not teaching a workshop. Well, today I’m down in Tampa, Florida attending the DGAC Conference & Hazardous Materials Transportation Exposition. We like to stay up-to-date with the news in the regulatory world, so we can keep you informed about the latest trends.
 
Limited Quantities, Unlimited Hassles
A button with conference attendees is the upcoming mandatory transition for using the new limited quantity marking (January 1, 2012). Representatives of large companies are stating that it will be costly to ditch their supply of pre-printed packaging that displays the old limited quantity marking (i.e., square-on-point with the UN number in the middle). In response, the DOT says it will allow them to continue to use the old marking system for a year longer. So far, this is just a verbal promise and the DOT is going to put out a letter of interpretation to that effect. 
 
Here are some potential problems with this plan: only packages pre-printed prior to January 19, 2011 with the old marking can continue to be used. How will the DOT enforce this? It will be impossible to distinguish packages printed prior to January 19, 2011. Plus, some carriers are concerned about the necessity to train their people to recognize two standards. This is likely to lead to carriers refusing the pick-up of limited quantities displaying the old markings. 
 
Say Goodbye to Combustible Liquids? 
Another huge potential change the DOT is looking at is to do away with the combustible liquid classification. While that may be a real positive for shippers of bulk combustibles who won’t have to ship it as a hazmat anymore, the change could wind up pulling a lot more shippers into the hazmat system. 
 
Right now, ground shippers of flammable liquids with flash points below 140°F but above 100°F can reclassify their material as combustibles and, generally, non-bulk packages of combustible liquids are excluded from all hazmat regulations. If the combustible liquid category goes away, this provision to reclassify these flammable liquids also goes away.
 
What’s Up Next for PHMSA?
From fiscal year 2009 to 2010, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) increased its rulemaking activity by 57% over the previous year. The Agency’s been busy and expects to continue along those lines. Here’s a rundown of coming rules, one for each mode of transportation.
 
Ground
You’re going to see something about “reverse logistics” in the coming months. PHMSA plans to begin the rulemaking process to address issues regarding customers who are returning products. 

Rail
Not to ignore the rail mode of transportation, look for proposed rules to incorporate Rail Special Provisions into the regulations. 
 
Vessel
Plus, in the next harmonization rules (HM-215 L), PHMSA will address all the stowage and segregation rule changes that were made to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code). By the way, even though the IMDG Code changed its definition of a marine pollutant for mixtures, the DOT is planning to keep the 1% and 10% rule for mixtures containing severe marine pollutants and regular marine pollutants, respectively. Keep an eye out for big changes to the vessel rules at 49 CFR Part 176.
 
Air
No surprise here… the Federal Aviation Administration is going to keep a sharp eye on oxygen generators and lithium batteries. The Administration suspects the last 5 major air disasters were likely caused by lithium battery fires. When shipping by air, if something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way!
 
Until tomorrow, ship safely.

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, limited quantities

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