Safety and Compliance

PHMSA Publishes Proposal on Special Permit and Approval Procedures and Criteria

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has published a proposed rule to revise the regulations to include the standard operating procedures and criteria used to evaluate applications for special permits and approvals. 79 Fed. Reg. 47047 (August 12, 2014). The rulemaking was mandated by Congress in MAP-21. According to PHMSA, these proposed amendments do not change previously established special permit and approval policies. PHMSA also noted that the rulemaking proposes to provide clarity regarding what conditions need to be satisfied to promote completeness of the applications submitted. In 2009, PHMSA revised its procedures for processing and evaluating special permits and converted them into SOPs for its Special Permits Program. In 2011, PHMSA revised its SOPs for its Approvals Program. One of the changes made was to consult with the modal administration regarding the safety record of the applicant in the mode of transportation for which the application was received (e.g., FMCSA for applications special permits by truck). Also, PHMSA discontinued the practice of allowing party status (also referred to as ‘‘party-to’’ status) to an applicable special permit to large associations, instead requiring each holder to apply separately for party status.

PHMSA receives approximately 3,000 special permit applications and approximately 20,000 approval applications annually.

PHMSA Proposes Rule for Hazmat Reverse Logistics

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has published a proposed rule on reverse logistics, i.e., the return of hazardous materials to the sender, by motor vehicle. 79 Fed. Reg. 46748 (August 11, 2014). PHMSA proposes a definition for “reverse logistics” for hazardous materials that are intended to be returned to or between a vendor, distributor, manufacturer, or other person for the purpose of returning for credit, recalling product, replacement, or similar reason (for instance, from a retail or wholesale outlet). The proposal would establish a new section in the Hazardous Materials Regulations to provide an exception for materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of reverse logistics. In this exception, PHMSA proposes to clearly identify the hazardous materials authorized, packaging, hazard communication, and training requirements applicable to reverse logistics shipments. In addition to providing a new reverse logistics exception, this rulemaking also proposes to expand an existing exception for reverse logistics shipments of used automobile batteries that are being shipped from a retail facility to a recycling center.

PHMSA Issues Final Rule on Failure to Pay Fines

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has published a final rule on the consequences of failing to pay civil penalties for violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations. 79 Fed. Reg. 46194 (August 7, 2014). The final rule prohibits a person who fails to pay a civil penalty as ordered, or fails to abide by a payment agreement, from performing activities regulated by the HMRs until payment is made. That would include preparing for shipment, offering for shipment, or transporting any regulated hazardous material in commerce. A person subject to the prohibition is notified in writing and given an opportunity to respond before being required to cease hazardous materials operations. The prohibitions of this final rule will apply to all final agency orders that assess penalties issued on or after the effective date of the final rule—September 8, 2014. Violations that do not substantially impact safety are handled through the ticket process under 49 CFR 107.310 and are exempt from this final rule.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association