HM-265A: Modernizing Regulations to Improve Safety and Efficiency
PHMSA is seeking your input to help us improve the HMR!
On July 5, 2023, PHMSA published the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) “HM-265A: Modernizing Regulations to Improve Safety and Efficiency” to the Federal Register. Based on feedback from industry stakeholders, internal PHMSA review, NTSB safety recommendations, and modal safety partners, the ANPRM addresses 46 separate areas where the requirements of the HMR may need to be updated to increase efficiency while improving safety. Topics addressed in the ANPRM include those related to UN Performance Oriented Package testing, tank car safety, hazardous material employee training, and updates to incorporated by reference documents, among others.
The public comment period for this ANPRM ends on October 3, 2023. For questions, please contact Mr. Eamonn Patrick at [email protected].
HM-263: FAST Act Requirements for Real-Time Train Consist Information
On June 27, PHMSA published a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) aimed at improving public safety and preventing environmental impacts by strengthening requirements governing railroads’ provision of hazardous materials information to responders during a hazmat incident. This proposal is a response to mandates in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The proposal would require all railroads to always maintain — and update in real-time — accurate, electronic information about rail hazmat shipments in a train consist that would be accessible to authorized emergency response personnel. Required information would include the quantity and position of the shipment on the train, the shipment’s origin and destination, and a designated emergency point of contact at the railroad. Railroads would also be required to proactively “push” that information to authorized local first response personnel as soon as the railroad is aware of an accident involving any hazardous materials.
The public comment period for this NPRM ends on August 28, 2023. For questions, contact Dirk Der Kinderen at (202) 366-8553.
HM-215Q: Harmonization with International Standards
On May 30, PHMSA published “HM-215Q: Hazardous Materials: Harmonization with International Standards” to the Federal Register. This NPRM proposes amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations to maintain alignment with international regulations and standards by adopting various amendments. Amendments include:
- Incorporations by reference (IBR), to the 2023–2024 edition ICAO Technical Instructions, Amendment 41-22 to the IMDG Code, and the 22nd revised edition of the UN Model Regulations
- Allowing continued use of the transport provisions for polymerizing substances, by removing the previous January 2, 2023 phaseout date
- Adding a new entry to the Hazardous Materials Table “UN3550, Cobalt dihydroxide powder, containing not less than 10% respirable particles,” with corresponding packaging provisions
- Removing the exceptions provided for small lithium cells and batteries for transportation by aircraft
- Removing the telephone number requirement from the lithium battery mark. Note that while this change would not mean that it is a violation to continue to include the telephone number on lithium battery marks, shippers and manufacturers are encouraged to review their marking practices and make any necessary changes to minimize the risk of frustrated shipments.
PHMSA wants your feedback on this proposed rule, so be sure to submit before the comment period closes on July 31, 2023. For questions, contact Candace Casey or Aaron Wiener at (202) 366–8553.
Wanted: Fresh Ideas on Recycled Plastics
Consistent with the Administration’s goals of reducing climate pollution, PHMSA is committed to facilitating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable process for manufacturing hazardous materials packagings. On April 14, PHMSA issued this Request for Information (RFI), “Request for Feedback on Recycled Plastics Policy,” to seek feedback on the use of recycled plastics in manufacturing hazardous materials packagings.
With this RFI, PHMSA wants to:
- Get insights on the impact recycled plastic resins could have on hazardous materials transportation safety
- Be transparent about its current policy on using recycled plastics in the manufacturing of hazardous materials packagings
- Receive your input to better inform potential regulatory changes
- Gather more information for the evaluation of future approval requests.
The deadline for responses is July 13, 2023. So, don’t wait to share your thoughts on this crucial topic! Questions may be submitted to Ryan Larson at [email protected].
Attention Electric Vehicle Owners and Shippers: Watch Out for Flooded Lithium Batteries!
On April 7, 2023, PHMSA issued a safety advisory to alert the public of the risks of lithium battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) that may have been damaged due to submersion during extreme weather events. PHMSA has learned of fires involving lithium batteries installed in EVs that were submerged in floodwaters after storms. Saltwater is especially harmful to lithium batteries as residual salt can cause the battery to short circuit and result in a fire. Additionally, the time frame in which a damaged battery can ignite varies, from days to weeks, and EV battery fires can be extremely damaging. Of course, transporting these flooded batteries could also pose a risk for shippers.
EV owners, salvage companies, and vehicle transport companies should check for potential damage to their installed lithium batteries before shipping. Shippers must follow the specific requirements in the HMR for both the transportation of EVs containing lithium batteries, and for the transportation of damaged or defective lithium batteries in commerce. PHMSA will continue to work with our safety partners to understand the emerging risks of flooded EV batteries. As such, we plan to conduct research and issue updated guidance when additional information is available.
For more details, view the full safety advisory here.