Hazardous Materials Training: PHMSA Publishes HM-215P Proposed Rule

Every year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) publishes a rule harmonizing the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) with international regulations.  The PHMSA is an organization we discuss often in hazardous materials training classes. This year, the proposed rule, published under docket HM-215P, was published on August 10, 2021.  The final rule is usually published late in the year and effective January 1.  Comments are due to PHMSA by October 12, 2021.

What Are The New Proposed Rules?

PHMSA proposes to incorporate by reference changes to the 2021-2022 ICAO Technical Instructions, Amendment 40-20 to the IMDG Code,  21st edition of the UN Model Regulations, and various industry standards.  On October 1, 2020, PHMSA issued an enforcement discretion that stated no enforcement action would be taken against any offeror or carrier who uses these standards as an alternative to complying with the current HMR requirements when used appropriately. 

PHMSA also proposes to incorporate by reference these new international regulations and standards as well as new requirements from the IAEA, ‘‘Specific Safety Requirements Number SSR–6: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material 2018 Edition’’ (SSR–6, Ref. 1); several new or updated ISO standards; and an updated version of the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals Test No. 431: In vitro skin corrosion: reconstructed human epidermis (RHE) test method. The standards incorporated by reference are authorized for use for domestic transportation, under specific conditions, by part 171, subpart C of the HMR- a topic we discuss in hazardous materials training courses.

In this proposed rule, PHMSA plans to authorize the motor carrier or rail transportation of hazardous material within the United States pursuant to a temporary certificate issued under Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG Regulations). The proposed recognition of Transport Canada-issued temporary certificates would improve cross-border movement of hazardous materials from efforts responding to the COVID–19 public health emergency or other future emergencies. For example, among the temporary certificates recently issued by Transport Canada are several authorizing exceptions from TDG Regulations to enable the movement of hand sanitizer chemicals and COVID–19 test samples.  Revision of the HMR as proposed would help to ensure that, should Transport Canada issue additional temporary certificates responding to the COVID–19 public health emergency or another cross border threat to public safety or the environment, the HMR will not be an obstacle to those efforts.

How it Affects the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT)

Numerous amendments to the hazardous materials table are proposed, including the addition and removal of certain proper shipping names, hazard classes, and packaging authorizations.

Vessel stowage requirements would be updated for several HMT entries.  The most significant change is PHMSA proposes adding stowage code 157 to column (10B) for numerous entries in the HMT. Stowage code 157 would require aerosols, small receptacles containing gas, or gas cartridges transported for purposes of recycling or disposal, to be stowed in accordance with stowage category C, which requires ‘‘on deck only’’ stowage, and to be clear of living quarters. This stowage code requirement is in lieu of the stowage category A assigned in column (10A) in the current HMR allowing ‘‘on deck’’ or ‘‘under deck’’ stowage. 

Special Provision 134 provides instruction on the use of the HMT entry ‘‘UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment,’’ stipulating that it applies only to vehicles or equipment powered by wet batteries, sodium batteries, lithium metal batteries, or lithium ion batteries that are transported with these batteries installed. PHMSA proposes to amend language in Special Provision 134 to clarify its use in connection with lithium batteries installed in cargo transport units. Under the proposed amendment, these items would be described by a separate entry in the HMT, specifically, ‘‘UN3536, Lithium batteries installed in cargo transport unit’’ for which there are unique transportation requirements that do not apply to transport of battery-powered vehicles or equipment. PHMSA is also amending the language in this special provision to replace the phrase ‘‘consigned under’’ with the phrase ‘‘described using’’ to provide a more easily-accessible, plain language understanding of the requirement.

Transporting Lithium Batteries and Marine Pollutants

Special Provision 360 provides instruction to aid in proper identification of a battery-powered vehicle that contains lithium batteries. Currently, Special Provision 360 states that vehicles powered solely by lithium batteries must be identified as ‘‘UN3171, Battery-powered vehicle or Battery-powered equipment.’’ In HM–215P, PHMSA added a new UN entry, ‘‘UN3536, Lithium batteries installed in a cargo transport unit lithium-ion batteries or lithium metal batteries.’’ PHMSA proposes to revise Special Provision 360 to better distinguish between the various types of equipment with lithium batteries. The revised language would specify that lithium batteries that are installed in cargo transport units which are designed only to provide power external to the transport unit must be transported as ‘‘UN3536, Lithium batteries installed in a cargo transport unit lithium-ion batteries or lithium metal batteries,’’ making them subject to packaging provisions and exceptions outlined in Special Provision 389. The intent of this language is to clarify further that these batteries should not be described and transported as ‘‘UN3091, Lithium metal batteries, contained in equipment including lithium alloy batteries’’ or ‘‘UN3481, Lithium ion batteries, contained in equipment including lithium-ion polymer batteries.’’ 

PHMSA proposes to mirror expansion by the UN Model Regulations and IMDG Code’s Special Provision 274 of acceptable technical names for marine pollutants transported under UN3077 and UN3082 by adding a new Special Provision 441 to the HMR. This special provision would provide the same shipping description flexibility specifically for marine pollutants by removing the requirement to supplement the proper shipping name associated with UN3077 and UN3082 with a technical name. PHMSA also proposes modifying §§ 172.203(l) and 172.322 to maintain alignment with the IMDG Code with regard to the documentation and marking requirements when marine pollutant components are present in hazardous materials. In addition to providing logistical benefits for shippers, PHMSA expects that the use of readily recognizable common commodity names instead of technical names will facilitate emergency response by making the hazardous material more quickly and easily identifiable. ‘

Label Specifications for Transportation & Misc. Changes

Section 172.406 specifies the requirements for the placement of labels on a package.  PHMSA is proposing adopting the ICAO visibility requirements for labels and markings on the outside of packages for air transportation.  PHMSA will expressly state that hazard labels and markings must appear on the same side of the package and may not “fold” around the side of the packages. 

New section 173.14 is added for hazardous materials in use or intended to be in use during transportation.  These materials include cargo tracking devices, data loggers attached to or placed in packages, overpacks, containers, or load compartments.  By ground, the materials are exempt from the HMR if intended to be used in transportation.  The exemption is limited to equipment that meets conditional safety requirements and is capable of withstanding normal conditions of transport. By vessel, the materials would be subject to §176.76. By air, the exemption is only for data loggers and cargo tracking devices on packages containing COVID-19 medical supplies.

PHMSA is additionally proposing the following changes to the HMR:

  • Clarification in §172.203 that the flashpoint is only required for liquid hazardous materials that have a primary or subsidiary hazard of Class 3 and a flashpoint of 60°C or below (in °C closed-cup (c.c.));  and
  • Reduce minimum size requirement for the lithium battery marking to 100 X 100 mm (100 X 70 mm for smaller packages).

PHMSA Updates and More Through Hazardous Materials Training

The proposed PHMSA updates will affect the hazardous material regulations, which is why it’s important to stay up-to-date with them. To learn more about these changes and how they might impact your company, contact Hazmat University today. We can provide you with hazardous materials training that includes an overview of the recent updates as well as information on other regulatory topics related to transportation compliance and safety. Our team has years of experience providing online courses in a variety of areas, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need help finding what’s best for your business needs regarding the training requirements.

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