For anyone working in the dangerous goods (DG) industry, the regulatory standards that seem to change on nearly a daily basis pose one of the greatest challenges. Several big changes have been implemented for hazardous materials shippers and carriers in 2018. Several new rules are in effect for hazmat air and vessel shipments now, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) plans to begin implementing additional new hazmat rules throughout the year.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the hazmat shipping rules that are mandatory now and which ones are still expected to hit the books this year.
RIN 2137-AF20–Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries by Air
As of February 2018, there are new regulations that apply to the shipment of lithium batteries by air. This helps harmonize the 49 CFR hazmat regulations for shipping lithium batteries by air with the still-evolving international standards.
Under the updated regulations, lithium-ion cells and batteries can no longer be shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft. The use of alternate provisions for small batteries by air has been limited, and batteries shipped by air must be charged to no more than 30%.
As devices powered by lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly common in recent years, hazmat regulations for shipping them have been evolving rapidly. The regulations for shipping these batteries have changed rapidly throughout the past decade, and they are expected to continue to evolve as lawmakers and industry professionals continue to learn about the potential hazards these batteries pose.
RIN 2137-AF08–Oil Spill Response Plans for High-Hazard Flammable Trains
Expected to become effective in July, this rule is intended to increase the applicability of oil spill response plans for trains that are transporting Class 3 flammable liquids in certain orientations and volumes. A “high hazard flammable train” is a train with 20 consecutive cars containing a Class 3 flammable liquid or at least 36 cars containing Class 3 flammable liquid across the entire train.
RIN 2137-AE80–Miscellaneous Amendments Pertaining to DOT Specification Cylinders
RIN 2137-AE80 addresses petitions that have been brought forth by industry stakeholders related to the manufacture, use and maintenance of DOT specification cylinders. The law incorporates two current hazmat permits into the 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations.
RIN 2137-AF09–Response to Hazmat Shipping Industry Petitions
Several petitions related to hazardous material shipping have been initiated by industry stakeholders. The PHMSA intends to address 19 of those petitions to provide relief and/or clarification in hazmat shipping rules and regulations.
Some of the petitions addressed include one to increase the service life of certain types of hazmat tank cars. A petition to remove the emergency response number requirement for shipments containing excepted quantities of hazardous materials is also to be addressed.
EPA’s Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest System
While this rule is technically a U.S. EPA rule as opposed to a new hazmat shipping regulation, it does come with consequences for hazmat shippers and is worth mentioning. Required for the transport of hazardous waste, the Hazardous Waste Manifest is a document that any transporter of hazardous materials should be familiar with.
In January of 2018, the EPA published the rule to establish a process for setting and collecting fees from shippers using the Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest system. The long-awaited e-Manifest system will begin its rollout on June 30, 2018.
The EPA has determined that collecting user fees for treatment, storage and disposal facilities and state-only waste receiving facilities is the best way of collecting the funds necessary to financially support the e-Manifest system’s administration fees.
What These Changes Mean for Hazmat Shippers
While these new rules and regulations are unlikely to be the only changes hazmat shippers will see in 2018, they do provide a clear picture that some pretty big changes are happening this year. Identifying future updates to regulations helps shippers understand the changes that may impact their operations and prepare for them early to avoid confusion and panic when those new rules are finalized by the DOT.
For shippers of hazardous materials, keeping up with the current laws and regulations is vital. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines and other consequences. Prepare yourself by becoming familiar with upcoming changes and making the necessary adjustments in your business now.