DOT Listens, Proposes Changes To Security Rules

After consulting with the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has responded to petitions from two industry groups and has proposed several revisions to the requirements for hazardous materials security plans. The current rule in HM-232F requires that all shippers and carriers of hazardous materials have a security plan for any placardable amount of certain hazardous materials and for any quantity of other hazmats. The security plan must address personnel security, unauthorized access and en route security. The plan must be completed for each facility where hazmat is stored or shipped.

But many of these hazardous materials do not present “security” risks; that is, they cannot easily be turned into weapons of mass destruction. A truckload of car batteries or cans of paint, for example, are properly classified as hazmat for transportation purposes but would pose no threat if they fall into terrorist or criminal hands. Thus, there is no need to require security plans for these types and quantities of products. For once, DOT has recognized logic and has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to substantially revise the types and quantities of products for which security plans are required based on the actual risk posed by those materials.

The proposed rule would apply to transportation of hazardous materials by air, rail, vessel and highway. Besides narrowing the scope of applicable materials, the proposal also would clarify certain requirements related to security planning, training and documentation, and incorporate and build on recent international standards governing hazardous materials security.

The proposal would apply the HM-232F requirements to a revised list of hazardous materials combining the UN recommendations list of high consequence dangerous goods and the U.S. DOT list of goods for which a hazmat safety permit is required. The proposal would eliminate the security plan requirement for a number of classes and divisions of hazmat, including several that are commonly transported by GAWDA members.

For example, the proposed rule would eliminate the security plan requirement for division 2.2 non-flammable gases, except for oxygen and gases with a subsidiary oxidizer (5.1) hazard, and for less than 3,000 L in a single package for division 2.1 flammable gases. There is no changed proposed for the security plan requirements for division 2.3 poison gases, however.

For class 3 flammable and combustible liquids, the proposed rule would not require security plans for any single package or container less than 3,000 L. For division 4.2 spontaneously combustible materials, the proposed rule would not require security plans for any materials in Packing Group III. For division 5.1 oxidizers, the proposal would not require security plans for Packing Group III liquids or unlisted solids. For division 6.1 poisonous materials, the proposal would eliminate the security plan requirement for less than 3,000 L of Packing Group II and III materials in a single package or container.

For corrosive materials in class 8, the proposal would require security plans only for single packagings of more than 3,000 L in Packing Group I, and for no materials in Packing Groups II or III. The proposal would also eliminate security plans entirely for class 9 materials.

GAWDA is filing comments in support of this common sense proposal. Prudence requires that shippers and carriers take appropriate safety and security precautions when transporting materials that could be used to trigger large scale destruction of property and injuries, but the regulatory agencies must also ensure that the security requirements are based on the actual risks posed by the types and quantities of materials they regulate. This proposed revision is a step in the right direction, although long overdue.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA Government Affairs & Human Resources Legal Consultant Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq., is president of Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC in Washington, D.C. Members can reach him at 202-223-3040 and at rpschweitzer@rpslegal.com.