On August 10, 2021, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published the proposed Hazardous Materials: Harmonization with International Standards rulemaking, HM-215P.

PHMSA requires comments be received by October 12, 2021.

In this NPRM, PHMSA proposes to amend the HMR to maintain alignment with various international standards. We are going to provide a high-level overview of some of the changes and proposals for your consideration.

As stated in the harmonization rulemaking, PHMSA proposes to incorporate by reference the newest versions of various international hazardous materials (hazmat) standards, including:

  • the 2021-2022 Edition of the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions);
  • Amendment 40-20 to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code);
  • the 21st Revised Edition of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UN Model Regulations); and
  • the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) “Specific Safety Requirements Number SSR-6: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material 2018 Edition” (SSR-6, Ref.1). While they propose to adopt this regulation, they state under proposals they are not proposing as Issue #3: various Radioactive transportation requirements amended by the various international regulations (i.e., ICAO TI, UN Model Regulations, IMDG Code) as PHMSA plans to address domestic radioactive harmonization issues in a future rulemaking (HM-250A) in coordination with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

As a reminder, these texts will not be incorporated by reference into the HMR until this rulemaking is finalized. However, PHMSA issued a Notice of Enforcement Policy October 1, 2020 allowing the use of the International Standards (2021-2022 ICAO IT and Amendment 40-20 of the IMDG Code).

PHMSA also proposes the incorporation by reference of several new or updated International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards as well as an updated version of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals Test No. 431: In vitro skin corrosion: reconstructed human epidermis (RHE) test method related to the classification of corrosives (Class 8).

Additionally, PHMSA proposes to authorize rail or motor carrier hazmat transport under a temporary certificate issued under Transport Canada’s Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR).

HMR proposed updates include:

  • PHMSA proposes amendments to the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT; § 172.101) to add, revise, or remove certain proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, bulk packaging requirements, and passenger and cargo aircraft maximum quantity limits.
  • Data loggers: PHMSA proposes exceptions for lithium batteries in equipment that are attached to or contained in packagings, large packagings, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), or cargo transport units as equipment in use or intended for use during transport, such as data loggers. Additionally, in response to the COVID–19 public health emergency, and consistent with revisions to the 2021–2022 ICAO Technical Instructions, PHMSA proposes exceptions specific to the air transportation of these items used in association with shipments of COVID– 19 pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. See the proposed new section §173.14 discussed below in the section reviews for hazardous materials in equipment that will be in use during transport.
  • Removal of metal wall thickness requirements for certain metal IBCs (capacity of 1500 L or less); see additional details below and PHMSAs request for comments.
  • Stabilized fish meal or fish scrap by air (UN2216) and expanding the applicability of stabilization requirements currently in place for shipment by vessel.
  • UN3549 Category A Medical Wastes: proposed new entry Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Humans, solid or Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Animals only, solid.’’ While PHMSA is not adopting certain packing provisions in the UN Model Regulations, it proposes assigning SP 131 which directs shippers to request a special permit prior to transport. Amendments to § 173.134 will include references to this new UN number and PSN.
  • Additional packagings for ‘‘UN2211, Polymeric beads, expandable, evolving flammable vapor’’ and ‘‘UN3314, Plastic molding compound in dough, sheet or extruded rope form evolving flammable vapor’’
  • Lithium batteries miscellaneous revisions of requirements
    • Minimum size markings of 100 mm x 100 mm for the lithium battery mark (minimum 100 mm x 70 mm for smaller packages)
    • Modification of stowage requirements to add stowage code 156 to UN3090, UN3091, UN3480 and UN3481.
    • Addition notation on the shipping paper for lithium batteries being shipped as Damage/defective or disposal/recycling
  • Definition of SADT (Self accelerating decomposition temperature) and SAPT (Self accelerating polymerizing temperature): amend the definitions to clarify the lowest temperature
  • Periodic inspection for chemicals under pressure from five to ten years for cylinders filled with UN3500, Chemical sunder pressure, n.o.s. that are used as fire extinguishing agents
  • Technical name requirements for marine pollutants See Special Provision 441 below for full details
  • Stability tests for nitrocellulose See new Special Provisions 196 and 197

Section overviews and other items of interest:

  • 172.101 | New HMT Entries
  • UN0511 Detonators, electronic programmable for blasting
  • UN0512 Detonators, electronic programmable for blasting
  • UN0513 Detonators, electronic programmable for blasting
  • UN3549 Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Humans, solid or Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Animals only, solid

Column 2 of the Hazmat Table

  • The proper shipping name for UN3363 is proposed to add a third option of “Dangerous Goods in Articles” in addition to “Dangerous Goods in Apparatus” or “Dangerous Goods in Machinery”. They will be adding the Articles entry option to “Fuel system components” proper shipping name in the table.

Column 7 special provisions:

  • SP 134 proposes amended language to clarify its use in connection with lithium batteries installed in cargo transport units, UN3536, provided the unit is designed only to provide power external to the transport unit.
  • New 196 and 197: to outline thermal stability testing requirements for Nitrocellulose.
  • SP 360 assigned to UN3481 and UN 3091 to instruct those vehicles only powered by lithium batteries must be assigned the identification number UN3171. SP 360 would also clarify 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.
  • New SP 430 assigned to UN3549 to specify the appropriate use of the proper shipping name only for solid medical waste of Category A transported for disposal.
  • New SP 441: for marine pollutants transported under UN3077 or UN3082 to allow the use of a technical name in association with the basic description to be a proper shipping name listed in the hazmat table provided the name chosen does not also include an n.o.s or is one that is assigned a “G” in column (1) of the table. For example, the proper shipping name “Paint” would be acceptable as a technical name for EHS materials.

Column 10 Vessel Stowage:

  • Multiple amendments to stowage codes including for UN3135, UN2900, UN2814
  • Stowage code 52 (separated from) would be assigned to UN1289, UN3206, UN3274
  • Adding stowage code 156 to the lithium battery entries (UN3090, UN3091, UN3480, UN3481); and
  • Adding stowage code 157 to UN1950, UN2037 requiring aerosols, small receptacles containing gas, or gas cartridges transported for recycling or disposal to be stowed in accordance with stowage category “C”. These align directly with the 40-20 Amendment to the IMDG Code.

Section §172.203 | shipping papers

  • Vessel transport – clarify the flashpoint requirement is only for liquid hazmat that have a primary or subsidiary hazard of Class 3 and a flashpoint of 60°C or below (in °C closed-cup (c.c.)).
  • Adding paragraph (i)(4) for damage/defective/disposal/recycling lithium batteries to have an appropriate notation. The statement “DAMAGED/DEFECTIVE”, “LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR DISPOSAL”, or “LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR RECYCLING” would be needed on the shipping paper as appropriate.
  • Marine pollutant technical name clarification (see special provision 441)
  • Adding paragraph (q) to require documentation of the holding time for refrigerated liquefied gases transported in portable tanks.

Section §172.315 | Limited Quantities | PHMSA proposes new paragraph (b)(3) to require, for air transport, the entire LQ mark must appear on one side of the package. This would harmonize with the existing requirement in the ICAO TI.

Section 173.14 | NEW SECTION | Hazardous materials in equipment in use or intended for use during transport (e.g. cargo tracking devices, data loggers attached to or place in packages, overpacks, containers, or load compartments)

  • By ground: Exempted from the regulations if intended for use during transportation, limited to equipment that meets conditional safety requirements (test requirements, construction, etc.), capable of withstanding the normal transport conditions.
  • By vessel: the requirements of §176.76(a)(9) apply.
  • By air: exemption from marking and documentation for lithium batteries contained in equipment such as data loggers and cargo tracking devices attached to placed in packages containing COVID-19 pharmaceuticals and the same package for the purpose of use or reuse.

PHMSA requests comment on whether the exception in § 173.14 for hazmat in equipment in use or intended for use during transport should be expanded to additional medical supplies not related to COVID-19 (e.g., other vaccines or more generally medicines) when transported by air.

Section §172.406 | This section prescribes the placement of labels on a package. The ICAO Tis have required for some time that all hazard communication (marks/labels) not be folded around corners and on one face of the package. PHMSA proposed to harmonize with ICAO to add specific restrictions on wrapping marks around corners of packages (i.e. those applied with a self-adhesive label, LQ, and EQ marks) and hazard class labels for shipments that are transported by air be on one side of the package.

Section 173.306 | This section provides exceptions from HMR requirements for limited quantities of compressed gases.

  • Paragraph (f) UN3164, Articles, pressurized pneumatic or hydraulic. PHMSA proposes to revise paragraphs (f)(2) and (f)(3) to allow robust accumulators to be transported unpackaged, in crates, or in overpacks that provide equivalent protections to the hazardous material transported.
  • They propose adding a new paragraph (n) to include provisions for the transport of UN2037 for recycling or disposal.

PHMSA requests comment on paragraph (n) on whether the authorized packagings mentioned in the section need to be expanded.

178.705 | Metal IBCs

PHMSA proposes to revise the minimum wall thickness requirements for metal IBCs with a volume of 1500 L or less to provide additional design and construction flexibility with regard to IBC designs. This amendment would harmonize with the 21st revised edition of the UN Model Regulations.

PHMSA solicits comments on the following safety and economic impacts regarding this proposed amendment:

  • Does the reliance on the performance testing system and the elimination of a prescriptive minimum wall thickness for metal IBC’s with a capacity of 1500 L or less (≤1500 L) present an unnecessary safety risk (e.g., reduced corrosion protection, ability to prevent punctures or ruptures resulting from conditions normally incident to transportation)? Explain.
  • Do manufacturers primarily use a reference steel or are other steels commonly used? If so, which ones?
  • If the minimum thickness requirement were removed for metal IBCs with a capacity of 1500 L or less, what calculations will the manufacturers use to determine the design minimum thickness for the IBCs made from the reference steel?
  • What is an approximate number of metal IBC design types and the number of IBCs manufactured in accordance with these design types that could reasonably expected to be in transportation?
  • What is the expected cost savings from the removal of a minimum wall thickness requirement for IBCs at or below the proposed 1500 L capacity?
  • What are the expected impacts of not harmonizing HMR requirements for metal IBCs with a capacity of 1500 L or less?

As an alternative to the proposed rule, PHMSA is also considering a change to § 171.23, which prescribes requirements for specific materials and packagings transported under incorporated international standards to prohibit transportation or offering for transportation of metal IBCs with a capacity of 1500 L or less when that transportation is made in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instructions, IMDG Code, Transport Canada TDG Regulations, or the IAEA Regulations. PHMSA also solicits comments on that potential prohibition.

PHMSA solicits comment on the amendments proposed in this NPRM pertaining to:

  • need, benefits and costs of the proposed HMR revisions;
  • impact on safety and the environment;
  • impact on environmental justice and equity; and any other relevant information.

The following is a list of significant amendments to the international standards that PHMSA is NOT currently proposing:

  • Issue #1: PHMSA is not proposing to revise the HMR to incorporate the packing instructions for UN3549 Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Humans, solid or Medical Waste, Category A, Affecting Animals only, solid as they plan to continue approving packaging through special permits.
  • Issue #2: PHMSA is not proposing to amend the HMR for Special Provision A201 requiring approval of the State of Origin and the operator, for urgent medical need as PHMSA added §173.185(g) in an interim final rule published on March 6, 2019. A final rule covering the issues adopted on an interim basis in HM-224I is currently under development.
  • Issue #3: Radioactive materials, PHMSA is not proposing to harmonize the remainder of the changes made by various regulations regarding radioactive materials. PHMSA plans to address domestic radioactive harmonization issues in a future rulemaking (HM-250A) in coordination with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Issue #4: Articles containing dangerous goods, n.o.s. containing explosives. PHMSA is not proposing a corresponding amendment to §173.232 as PHMSA does not permit shippers to self-exclude a potential explosive (i.e. an article) from Class 1.
  • Issue #5: UN Model Regulation amendment to Packing Instruction P801 for use of stainless steel boxes and plastic bins as packagings for used batteries assigned to UN3794, UN2795, UN3028. PHMSA does not believe there is a safety justification to add these to the HMR authorized packagings.