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PHMSA contemplating several revisions to Hazardous Materials Regulations

The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA)--the federal agency that regulates the multi-modal transportation of hazmat--is proposing several potentially-significant revisions to its Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs), according to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) published on July 5, 2023.

According to the Notice, "PHMSA is publishing this ANPRM to solicit stakeholder feedback on initiatives PHMSA is considering that may modernize the Hazardous Materials Regulations and improve efficiencies while maintaining or improving a current high level of safety." Through the ANPRM, the agency is seeking public input on 46 distinct topics.

The full list of topics under consideration are included at the bottom of this article, but chief among them are the following:

  • Evaluation of Carrier Maintenance of Emergency Response Information. The agency is seeking public comment on the continued utility of the requirement that regulated entities maintain emergency response information onboard the vehicles or vessels transporting hazmat.

  • Requirements for Damaged, Defective, or Recalled Lithium Cells and Batteries. The agency is asking for public comment on potential revisions to 49 CFR 173.185(f), which concerns the transportation of damaged, defective, or recalled lithium cells or batteries. Specifically, the agency wishes to clarify that it does not consider devices and batteries recalled for non-safety related purposes to be subject to the ‘‘damaged, defective, or recalled’’ packing instruction in § 173.185(f).

  • EX–Number Display Requirements. PHMSA is willing to consider revising the HMR to permit certain fireworks (UN0336, UN0335, and UN0431) when approved under the provisions of APA 87–1 and certified by an FCA to be transported with the UN ID number on a packing slip, or only displayed on the devices themselves, rather than on the packaging or shipping paper.

  • Ethyl Alcohol Exception. The agency is requesting public comment on a potential expansion of the existing exception from the packaging and shipment requirements of the HMR for limited quantities of beverages, food, cosmetics and medicines, medical screening solutions, and concentrates containing ethyl alcohol (commonly referred to as ethanol or alcohol). Right now, that exception applies only to those commodities that are "sold as retail products.’’

  • Limited Quantity Training Exception. PHMSA is considering a training exception for limited quantity (LTD QTY) shipments of hazardous materials by highway, rail, and vessel, similar to the exception found in the Transport Canada Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulations section 1.17.

  • Design Certifying Engineer Experience. Design Certifying Engineers (DCEs) are required to review and approve the design of specification cargo tanks and PHMSA is considering whether to require that a DCE perform a similar role for tank cars. DCEs, as defined in § 171.8, are required to register with the Department and meet education and experience requirements.

  • Updating Requirements for Transporting Hazardous Materials on Passenger Carrying Motor Vehicles. The agency is asking for public comment on the need to update current regulations governing the transportation of hazmat on passenger-carrying motor vehicles (e.g., buses, taxis, ride- sharing vehicles) to account for new challenges and opportunities in modern transportation. According to the Notice, the issues PHMSA and FMCSA are aware of in this space include the transportation of fireworks and patient medical samples in ridesharing vehicles, and transportation of medical oxygen cylinders on buses.

  • Remove Exceptions for Cargo Tank Inspections. The agency is contemplating removing an existing exception from the inspector qualification requirements for those inspecting cargo tank motor vehicles. "It is PHMSA and FMCSA’s understanding that very few cargo tank motor vehicle inspections are conducted under the provisions of § 180.409(b), (c), and (d). We are concerned these provisions do not enhance public safety and may allow unqualified persons to perform tests and inspections."

  • Cargo Tank Registered Inspector Training and Qualification. DOT and MC specification cargo tanks must be tested and inspected in accordance with the requirements of part 180, subpart E. Unless excepted in § 180.409, tests and inspections required to continue to operate a specification cargo tank in hazardous materials service must be conducted by an inspector who meets certain qualifications. The agency is considering revisions to bolster these qualifications. Namely, PHMSA believes that incorporation by reference of an industry standard for cargo tank inspection (e.g., National Boiler Inspection Code [NBIC], ASME, Truck Trailer Manufacturer’s Association) may help address concerns about inspector qualifications.

  • Emerging Technologies. The agency is contemplating changes to account for emerging energy storage, transportation, and carbon sequestration technologies. "These technologies include new battery chemistries, increased transportation of clean energy products including hydrogen, and the capture, purification, and sequestration of carbon dioxide. PHMSA is committed to ensuring that the HMR do not become a barrier to the development, use, and prevalence of such technologies, and facilitates the integration of these new technologies in the economy, by adding, revising, or deleting certain provisions as necessary."

The ANPRM asks the public to weigh in on several dozen pointed questions on each of the 46 topics. The comment period is open through October 3, 2023, and comments can be filed in docket number PHMSA-2019–0031.

The full list of topics up for considerations is included below:

A. Evaluation of Carrier Maintenance of Emergency Response Information

B. Non-Bulk Packaging, Intermediate Bulk Container, and Large Packaging Periodic Retest Extension

C. Use of Non-Bulk Package Test Samples for Multiple Tests

D. Aerosol Classification Alignment

E. Residue IBC Exceptions

F. Requirements for Damaged, Defective, or Recalled Lithium Cells and Batteries

G. Sampling and Testing Program for Unrefined Petroleum-Based Products

H. Basic Oil Spill Response Plan Applicability

I. Standards Incorporated by Reference Update

J. EX–Number Display Requirements

K. Section 173.150 Ethyl Alcohol Exception

L. Limited Quantity Training Exception

M. Exceptions for Small Quantities of Division 4.3, PG I Material

N. Recycling Safety Devices

O. Creation of Basic Description and Shipping Description Definitions

P. Removal of the 60-Day Renewal Requirement for Approvals and Special Permits

Q. Design Certifying Engineer Experience

R. Oxidizing Gases by Air

S. Part 176 Vessel Requirements Update

T. LTD QTY Shipping Paper Exception by Vessel

U. Convention for Safe Containers Data Plate and Inspection Requirements

V. Identification of Freight Containers in Rail Transportation

W. Exceptions for Rail Transport of Lithium Batteries for Purposes of Recycling and Disposal

X. Tank Car Manway Inspections

Y. Acid Resistant Manways for DOT 111A100W5 Tank Cars

Z. Tank Car Thermal Protection Standard

AA. Unoccupied Locomotive Train Placement

BB. Offering a Tank Car After Qualification Expiration

CC. Non-Destructive Examination

DD. Updating Requirements for Transporting Hazardous Materials on Passenger Carrying Motor Vehicles

EE. EPA 27 Test Method for Cargo Tanks

FF. Mounting Pads for Cargo Tank Damage Protection Devices

GG. Cargo Tank Hydrostatic Test Medium

HH. Cargo Tank Thickness and Corrosion Inspection Requirements

II. Remove Exceptions for Cargo Tank Inspections

JJ. Segregation of Detonating Explosives for Highway Transportation

KK. Cargo Tank Reflectivity

LL. Cargo Tank Registered Inspector Training and Qualification

MM. Cargo Tank Design Certifying Engineer Training and Qualification

NN. Cargo Tank Registered Inspector Verification and Documentation

OO. Cargo Tank Design Certifying Engineer Verification and Documentation

PP. Cargo Tank Registered Inspector Revised Definition

QQ. Cargo Tank Design Certifying Engineer Revised Definition

RR. NTSB Safety Recommendations R–20–1 to R–20–4

SS. Placard Display on Intermediate Bulk Containers

TT. Emerging Technologies

About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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