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PHMSA Asks for Input on 46 Hazmat Regulation Topics

Posted on 9/21/2023 by Lion Technology Inc.

Updated 09/21/2023: Comment Period Extended

PHMSA has extended the public comment period for this recent advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), and will accept public comments on the notice until December 4, 2023.

Topics and rule changes open to comment have the potential to affect 49 CFR provisions related to aerosols, ethyl alcohol, damaged or recalled lithium batteries, oil spill response plans, emergency response information, hazmat training, rail transportation, package testing and design, placarding, hazmat Special Permits, and more. 

Comments must be received by December 4, 2023 and can be submitted through regulations.gov.

The docket number is PHMSA–2019–0031 (HM–265A).


PHMSA is asking for input from hazmat shippers and other industry stakeholders on forty-six topics, including dozens of potential updates to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), as part of an effort to “modernize” and clarify the requirements. 

The lengthy list of hazmat transportation topics appeared in an ANPRM published on July 5, 2023. In the notice, PHMSA presents each topic with an explanation of the regulatory change or clarification under consideration. For most topics in the notice, PHMSA addresses specific, detailed questions to the regulated community. 

Many of the ideas PHMSA outlines and asks about in this notice come from petitions for rulemaking submitted by industry stakeholders responding to previous calls for their input. You can browse the full list of topics in the July 5 Federal Register (linked above). Below are 10 potential HMR updates that could make a big impact for hazardous materials shippers. 

Stakeholders comments must be received by October 3, 2023 December 4, 2023 and can be submitted through regulations.gov. The docket number is PHMSA–2019–0031 (HM–265A).

PHMSA Asks for Input on 46 Hazmat Regulation Topics

10 Big Hazmat Shipper Topics in the ANPRM

Among the topics about which PHMSA wants stakeholder input are questions about potential regulatory changes or initiatives that would: 

  • Align some regulations for shipping aerosols (UN 1950) with international rules.

  • Clarify and revise the rules for damaged, defective, and recalled (DDR) lithium batteries.

  • Remove the 60-day renewal requirement for hazmat Special Permits and Approvals.

  • Adjust the applicability criteria for oil spill response plans (OSRP).

  • Expand the exception for ethyl alcohol (173.150(g)).

  • Provide relief for shipping IBCs containing residues of certain hazardous materials. 

  • Create an exception to the hazmat employee training requirements for limited quantity shipments by highway, rail, and vessel. 

  • Define the terms "basic description" and "shipping description," which describe information required on shipping papers. 

  • Revise and clarify the rules for visibility and display of placards (172.516) with respect to placards on intermediate bulk containers or shrink-wrapped pallets.

  • Evaluate the need for emergency response information (ERI) to accompany hazardous materials aboard a motor vehicle, train, plane, and/or vessel. 

Helping to round out the list of forty-six topics are issues related to emergency response information aboard vehicles carrying hazmat; possible updates to hazmat package testing, inspection, certification, and/or design standards; and several hazmat rail transportation considerations.

The comments submitted by industry stakeholders and the public in response to this ANPRM will help regulators to gauge demand for each rule change or new relief, estimate benefits and cost savings, and predict supply chain impacts.  

Why Your Comments Matter

Hazardous materials professionals have valuable insights to share about the challenges of navigating and complying with the HMR, and the consequences of revising the rules. Often, stakeholder comments offer perspectives that are difficult (if not impossible) for regulators to see from the outside looking in.

Participation in the rulemaking process benefits both stakeholders and the regulating agency. Regulators get a clearer view of the impact the rules they enact and enforce have on businesses and individuals who must comply. By sharing input and responding to calls for comments, the regulated community can help to frame and shape the regulations to be clearer, more user-friendly, and more reflective of the current realities in industry. 

Hazmat industry professionals can submit comments through regulations.gov until October 3 December 4. The docket number is PHMSA–2019–0031 (HM–265A).


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