2019 is bound to see some policy changes to dangerous goods transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the entity that decides these change and “paves the road” for policy. Its main charge is to protect the public from the hazards associated with the transportation in commerce of hazardous materials. So, why is the PHMSA not mentioned as much as some of its sister agencies? Furthermore, why is an agency, whose job is literally one of life and death, not given more weight to its policy changes? Well, because of the nature of its job the laws and regulations surrounding hazmat transport are very airtight and specific. It’s hard to not follow these laws and regulations unless an accident was to occur. 2019 is sure to see some hefty changes. Technology is evolving more and more every day. As commerce and eCommerce methods continue to evolve, so too must their dangerous goods policies and regulations. DGD Hazmat is going to cover a two-part series on the predictions based around hazmat policy changes in 2019.
Predictions – Railroad Transportation
The PHMSA is expected to continue to rollout the changes in legislation requirements in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. The FAST Act calls for the PHMSA to improve the safe movement of liquefied natural gas and crude oil transported by rail.
The act was first signed because of a number of incidents involving so-called “high hazard flammable trains.” In 2019 the PHMSA will likely expand the applicability of comprehensive oil spill response plans based on thresholds of liquid petroleum that apply to an entire train. This will allow for more comprehensive and “full-proof” relief efforts when train spills occur. Furthermore, just as important as the previous mention, this will require railroads to dispense information about “high hazard flammable trains” to the states they’re currently traveling through. The potential safety benefits of these changes cannot be understated. Not only that but also, the PHMSA is considering revisions to the Hazmat Materials Regulations to establish vapor pressure limits for unrefined petroleum-based products. That also applies to the FAST Act by limiting the amount that could be transported at a time.
To say that almost every electronic product or vehicle has a lithium battery would be close to an understatement. In fact, they are always present during commercial air transportation. However, with that ever present presence there are ever present dangers. There can be, and have been, fires started by lithium batteries during commercial air transportation.
Predictions – Lithium Batteries
The PHMSA is developing three rules/amendments to try and alleviate this issue. These rules would be applicable to all lithium cells and batteries during aircraft transportation. Furthermore, these rules aren’t just simple bandaids. These rules aim to create large change in the transportation of lithium cells and batteries. The first amendment is the complete ban of lithium cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircrafts. The second, lithium cells and batteries be shipped at not more than a 30 percent state of charge aboard cargo-only aircraft. Lastly, they will place limits on the use of alternative provisions for small lithium cell or battery shipments to one package per consignment or overpack. These amendments are sure to create sweeping changes in hazmat air transportation.
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