Bulk cargo tank proposal withdrawn
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March 10, 2014
Bulk cargo tank proposal withdrawn

Industry has prevailed upon the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to withdraw a proposal that would have required regulated entities to perform risk assessments of operations to load and unload bulk hazardous materials to and from cargo tank motor vehicles (CTMVs) and then implement operating procedures based on those assessments.  Issued in March 2011, the proposal would have also required additional training of personnel who perform these operations.

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Employee qualification

The proposal resulted in part from recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.  In the proposal, PHMSA indicated that requiring offerers, carriers, or facility operators to develop and implement operating procedures governing the loading and unloading of a CTMV would enhance the safety of such operations. 

The proposal contained five requirements:

  • For cargo tank carriers that engage in loading or unloading operations:
    • Assess the risks of loading and unloading operations and develop written operating procedures.
    • Train hazmat employees in the relevant aspects of the operating procedures.
    • Annually qualify hazmat employees who perform loading and unloading operations.
  • For facilities providing transfer equipment for cargo tank loading and unloading operations:
    • Develop and implement a periodic maintenance schedule to prevent deterioration of equipment and conduct periodic operational tests to ensure that the equipment functions as intended.
    • Ensure that the equipment meets the performance standards for specification CTMVs.

Redundancy and high cost

Among the concerns expressed in comments on the proposal were the possibility of duplication of existing hazardous materials regulations (HMRs) already administered by PHMSA, as well as regulations implemented by OSHA and the EPA; significant underestimation by PHMSA of the costs of training and qualification; and overly burdensome recordkeeping requirements. 

In response to the comments, PHMSA reconsidered the proposal. 

The reconsideration recognized the possible redundancy of the proposed requirements.  PHMSA also indicated that the types of incidents the proposal was intended to address would probably continue to occur because of human error that could not be corrected through further regulation. 

Guidance document promised

PHMSA now says that in place of the rulemaking, it will undertake three nonregulatory actions:

  • Issue a guidance document for CTMV loading and unloading operations.
  • Implement an outreach campaign to educate the regulated community on current regulatory requirements and best safety practices.
  • Conduct human-factors research to examine human involvement in the release of hazmats and to potentially use this to support future consideration of rulemaking to address CTMV loading and unloading operations.

PHMSA’s withdrawal of the proposal was published in the February 25, 2014, FR.

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