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2020 Preview: 3 Hazmat Rules to Watch

Posted on 11/25/2019 by Roger Marks

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released the Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.

Updated twice per year, the Unified Agenda gives industry stakeholders and the public a view into rulemaking activities in progress within Federal agencies. Members can access our latest Bulletin in the Member Area.

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Rule 1: Harmonization with International Standards (HM-215-O)  

hazardous materials in portProposed one year ago on November 27, 2018, hazmat harmonization rule HM-215O is still waiting to be finalized. According to the recently released Fall Unified Agenda, PHMSA plans to release a Final Rule this month. 
HM 215-O adopts changes in place for the 2019-20 ICAO Technical Instructions (TI), the 2018 IMDG Code (mandatory as of January 1, 2019), the 20th Revised Edition of the UN Model Regulations, and other international standards. 
PHMSA issued a Notice of Enforcement Policy in December 2018 to inform the regulated community that it “will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who is using” the current, appropriate international standards to prepare or transport hazmat air or vessel shipments.   
PHMSA further pledges to not take enforcement action against anyone who offers or accepts “for domestic or international transportation by any mode packages marked and labeled marked and labeled in accordance with these standards” 
Updates in HM-215O Rule (as proposed) include: 
  • Amendments to the 172.101 Hazmat Table;
  • Adding alternative criteria for classifying corrosives; 
  • New segregation requirements for lithium cells and batteries shipped by passenger aircraft;
  • Adding a new classification system for some articles containing hazardous materials;
  • and more. 
To learn more, see our full breakdown of the proposed rule from November ‘18. 

Back to Back Harmonization Rules?

PHMSA proposes a harmonization rule once every two years, which means that shippers and carriers can expect the next harmonization rule in mid-to-late 2020. 
The most recent updates in international hazmat regulations impact the following areas: Category A infectious waste, damaged lithium batteries, cylinder manufacturing and testing, organic peroxides, and others. 
Hazmat training in northeast cities in Jan 2020

Rule 2: Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries by Air

small lithium ion batteriesDOT put in place an Interim Final Rule in March 2019 to adopt new international requirements for lithium batteries shipped by air. The March IFR includes three provisions added to the ICAO/IATA regulations: 
  • To prohibit the transport of lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft;
  • To limit lithium ion cells and batteries to 30% state-of-charge (SoC) for air transport; and
  • To limit shippers to one (1) package per consignment of lithium batteries shipped under the provisions for “small” or “excepted” cells and batteries.
If these three provisions sound like “old news” to you, note that these restrictions were added to the ICAO TI and the IATA DGR in 2016.
In its proposed rule, PHMSA also created an approval process for shipments of not more than two replacement lithium cells or batteries specifically used for medical devices to be transported by passenger aircraft at a state-of-charge greater than 30%, when certain conditions are met. 
PHMSA also added a requirement in the proposed rule to mandate the use of the Cargo Aircraft Only label (or one of three alternative markings) on certain lithium battery ground shipments. 
Now that the Interim Final Rule has been subject to a public comment period, DOT will promulgate a proper Final Rule in May 2020. 

Rule 3: Adoption of Misc. Petitions to Reduce Regulatory Burden 

DOT proposed a rule in Summer 2019 that makes 19 revisions to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to “update, clarify, and provide relief from” certain requirements.  

Changes proposed include expanding limited quantity exceptions to 100+ corrosive materials, allowing for smaller proper shipping name markings on some portable tanks, and others.
The proposed rule appeared in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019.
 Lion continues to track all of PHMSA's rulemaking activity with potential to impact hazardous materials shippers, carriers, and stakeholders. Stay tuned to Lion News for updates on Final Rules, compliance deadlines, and specifics about new requirements and reliefs added to the HMR. 

Coming Next Week: 3 RCRA Rules to Watch in 2020. 

Tags: 49 CFR, hazardous materials transportation, hazmat shipping, ICAO, new rules

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