Emergency HMR Waivers Issued for Wildfire and Hurricane Disaster Areas

Posted on 9/24/2020 by Roger Marks

This month DOT PHMSA issued a pair of emergency orders to waive 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) requirements for personnel working in designated disaster areas affected by Hurricane Sally in the southeast and ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon. 

Both waivers will remain in effect for 30 days. By waiving compliance with hazmat transportation requirements, PHMSA aims to facilitate the safe removal, transport, and disposal of hazardous materials during recovery and cleanup operations in these areas.  

Hurricane Sally (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida)  

Emergency Wavier #15
On September 17, PHMSA issued an Emergency Waiver Order for “persons conducting operations under direction of US EPA and the US Coast Guard within the disaster and emergency areas of Hurricane Sally in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.”

Hurricane Sally affects many counties in the four states named in PHMSA’s emergency waiver. More information about the declared emergency can be found in declarations EM-3543, EM-3544, EM-3545, and EM-3546.

Wildfires (California, Oregon)  

Emergency Waiver #16
Issued on September 22, this order waives compliance with the HMR for “persons conducting operations under the direction of US EPA and the US Coast Guard within the California and Oregon Wildfire disaster and emergency areas.”

California counties now covered by presidential disaster declaration are: Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Butte, Monterey, Plumas, and Yuba.  
(DR-4558, as amended)

Oregon counties covered by emergency disaster declaration are Clackamas, Douglass, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Tillamook, Washington, Benton, Columbia, Coos, Deschutes, Josephine, Lake, Multomah, Wasco, and Yamhill (EM-3542 and DR-4562).

Both waivers also authorize persons working under EPA and USCG direction within the disaster and emergency areas to offer and transport non-radioactive hazardous materials under alternate safety requirements imposed by those entities when HMR compliance is not feasible.

Under the waiver, non-radioactive hazardous materials may be transported to staging areas within 50 miles of the point of origin. Transportation beyond the staging area will require full compliance with the HMR.

How PHMSA Waives HMR Compliance

US law authorizes PHMSA to waive compliance with 49 CFR requirements for shipping and transporting hazardous materials. Each HMR waiver must meet three criteria.

Each waiver must be:
  1. In the public interest;
  2. Not inconsistent with safe hazardous materials transport; and
  3. Necessary to facilitate the safe movement of hazmat into, from, and within an area of a major declared disaster or emergency (49 USC 5103(c) and 49 CFR 1.97(b)(3)).  

These latest PHMSA HMR waivers are the 15th and 16th such waivers PHMSA's issued since September 2017–when the agency released three waivers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey's landfall in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Puerto Rico, an the US Virgin Islands. 

October 6: Recurrent 49 CFR Hazmat Ground Shipper Training

hazmat shipping professionalIf you ship hazardous materials, US DOT requires you to complete hazmat training once every three years (49 CFR 172.704).  

Lion has you covered with initial and recurrent hazmat training courses for highway, rail, air, and vessel shippers.

Knock out training at your own pace with online courses you can access from any internet connection. Or join us live for a one- or two-day webinar led by a full-time Lion instructor.

Live hazmat training schedule for October 2020:
Recurrent Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification October 6
Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (Initial) October 20–21
Hazmat Air Shipper Certification (IATA) October 15
Hazmat Vessel Shipper Certification (IMDG) October 22

Browse all hazmat training courses now at 

Tags: 49 CFR, hazardous materials, hazardous materials regulations, hazmat shipping, HMR

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