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October 25, 2012
PHMSA continues special permit reforms

Since the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Transportation recommended that it do so, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has moved aggressively to incorporate special permits (SPs) and competent authority approvals (approvals) into the hazardous materials regulations (HMRs).  The OIG issued its report on special permits in 2009, and the PHMSA has subsequently promulgated four rules that codified special permits into the HMRs.  In its latest action, the PHMSA is proposing that eight additional special permits and four approvals be adopted into the HMRs. 

Equivalent level of safety

Special permits allow a company or individual to package or ship a hazardous material in a manner that varies from the regulations, provided an equivalent level of safety is maintained.  The PHMSA may also grant variances from the HMRs if actions are taken in accordance with standards issued by competent international authorities, such as the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code or the International Civil Aviation Organization.  Incorporations such as these eliminate the need for numerous requests to renew special permits and approvals and reduce paperwork burdens while facilitating commerce with an appropriate level of safety.

Special permits

The proposal would add the following SPs to the HMRs:

  • SP 9275.  Authorization for the transportation in commerce of certain limited quantities of liquids and solids containing ethyl alcohol and exempt these shipments from the provisions of the HMRs.
  • SP 11263.  Authorization for the transportation of Class 9 solid coal pitch compounds in nonspecification open-top or closed-top sift-proof metal cans or fiber drums.
  • SP 11836.  Authorization for the transportation in commerce of UN1H1 and UN6HA1 drums containing ammonia solutions that do not meet certain requirements contained in 49 CFR 173.24 and 173.24a.
  • SP 13124.  Authorization for the transportation of ammonia solutions in UN1H1 and UN6HA1 drums by private or contract carriers.
  • SP 12134.  Authorization of exceptions for spent bleaching earth (Division 4.2 PG III).
  • SP 12825.  Authorization for the transportation of self-inflating lifesaving appliances that contain nonspecification steel cylinders between a vessel and an authorized facility for servicing.
  • SP 14479.  Authorization for the use of alternative shipping names and marking requirements for regulated medical wastes.
  • Special permits for harmonization with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  The PHMSA is seeking to add an exception to the HMRs for oxygen cylinders and other oxidizing cylinders transported aboard aircraft within the state of Alaska. This language will make several existing special permits no longer necessary, including SPs 14903, 14908, 15062, 15075, 15076, 15077, 15078, 15079, 15092, 15094, 15095, and 15143.

Approvals

The proposal would add the following SPs to the HMRs:

  • CA2005120010.  Authorization to manufacture, mark, and sell UN4G combination packagings with outer fiberboard boxes and with inner fiberboard components that have basis weights that vary by not more than plus or minus 5 percent from the measured basis weight in the initial design qualification test report.
  • CA20060660005.  Authorization to manufacture, mark, and sell UN5M1 and UN5M2 multiwall paper bags with individual paper wall basis weights that vary by plus or minus 5 percent from the nominal basis weights reported in the initial design qualification test report.
  • CA2006060006.  Authorization to manufacture, mark, and sell UN4G combination packagings with outer fiberboard components that have individual containerboard basis weights that vary by plus or minus 5 percent from the nominal basis weight reported in the initial design.
  • CA2006010012.  Authorization to manufacture, mark, and sell UN4G combination packagings with outer fiberboard boxes and with inner fiberboard components that have individual containerboard basis weights that vary by plus or minus 5 percent from the nominal basis weights reported in the initial design qualification test reports.

According to the PHMSA, the proposed amendments will eliminate the need for approximately 464 current holders to reapply for renewal of 20 special permits and will result in 140 fewer responses by the PHMSA each year.

PHMSA’s proposed incorporation of special permits and approvals into the HMRs was published in the October 22, 2012, FR.

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