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Recent Issue Summaries

What You've Missed... March/April 2012 Issue

A sampling of what you've missed in the March/April 2012 issue of HAZMAT Packager & Shipper...

As a Subscriber, you would have learned ....

how you should assess PHMSA’s interpretation letters.  Should they be given deference, serve as a reference, or be treated as irrelevant?  PHMSA regularly releases DOT letters of HMR interpretation for which the Journal provides the latest in each issue.  Industry needs to understand the regulatory context and the legal standing of these letters in order to guide its HMR compliance and, if necessary, to challenge improper enforcement actions.  The article provides helpful background and guidance.  PHMSA Letters of Interpretation: Deference, Reference or Irrelevance.

that the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) held a special working group meeting on lithium batteries in Montreal from February 6 to 10, 2012.  Normally the work of DGP 23 would have concluded the effort on amendments to be incorporated in the 2013-2014 edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions.  Owing to outstanding issues on lithium batteries, the ICAO leadership authorized the DGP to convene a working group specific to lithium batteries.  You will definitely want to update yourself on this meeting.  ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel Working Group on Lithium Batteries.

that on February 29, 2012, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) held a public meeting in Washington, DC.  Discussed were the potential changes to the applicant fitness determination process currently used by PHMSA to grant or deny applications for special permits and approvals.  In two separate articles, the authors report on the topics addressed and commented upon, the second being a more colorful report from an industry attorney perspective. PHMSA Public Meeting on Special Permit and Approval Applicant Fitness Determinations.   Industry Moves to Force Quicker Action on PHMSA Applications.

that on November 14, 2011, the FMCSA granted a request for a rulemaking on the Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (“HMSP”) Program (49 CFR  385.407).  The FMCSA action was prompted by a December 21, 2010 petition from industry to modify these regulations.  This article reviews the recommendations set forth in the industry petition and the FCMSA response.  Although FMCSA has not yet initiated the rulemaking process, the authors note several actions industry participants may be able take in the interim to address problems raised by FMCSA’s response.  FMCSA Grants Petition For Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program Rulemaking.

about a February 22, 2012, American Trucking Associations (ATA) petition to FMCSA revise the definition in 49 CFR 383.5 for “tank vehicle”.  ATA protests that the recently adopted definition goes beyond the change requested by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in a February 2008 petition and captures vehicles that are not tank vehicles, such as van trailers carrying certain tanks, cylinders and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs).  ATA has proposed regulatory text which would change the current definition to exclude its applicability to these units. American Trucking Association Petitions FMCSA to Change “Tank Vehicle” Definition.

that on March 26, 2012, OSHA published a final rule in the Federal Register aligning its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in a manner consistent with DOT regulations.  With limited exceptions, the GHS uses the same classification criteria as the HMR but the GHS also includes additional hazard levels and hazards (e.g., carcinogenicity) not covered by the HMR.  The Federal Register publication is over 320 pages!  You will need to familiarize yourself with this final rule to assure compliance with these new OSHA labeling and marking requirements, and the new SDS requirements which are replacing the MSDS rules.  OSHA Aligns Hazard Communication Standard with GHS and DOT.