Earlier this month (March), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ("PHMSA") issued a final rule prohibiting texting on electronic devices by drivers hauling hazardous materials. The final rule will be effective beginning March 30, 2011. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") already prohibits texting by commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce, but does not have jurisdiction over intrastate driving. The PHMSA enjoys authority over ALL drivers hauling hazmat so this new rule will assure both interstate and intrastate hazmat haulers are prohibited from texting while driving.
The changes made by the Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) to the hazardous material security plan requirements became effective October 1, 2010. These changes eliminated the need to have a written security plan for many classes of hazardous material, including Classes 1.6, 2.2, 3, 4.1, 6.1, 7, 8 and 9. In addition, those entities with multiple terminal locations that are still required to maintain a security plan must now ensure that the plan is location-specific. Moreover, the security plan must be reviewed at least annually and revised as necessary to reflect changing circumstances. Finally, the new changes require that the security plan identify by job title the senior management official responsible for overall development and implementation of the security plan.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ("PHMSA") recently revised 49 CFR Part 172 to modify certain aspects of its hazardous materials security plan. The final rule, which should be of keen interest to those air, rail, vessel, and motor carriers who transport hazmat materials, will go into effect on October 1, 2010 and deregulate certain types and quantities of hazardous materials unlikely to be targeted for criminal or terrorist use. The final rule also clarifies certain PHMSA regulations related to security planning, training, and documentation. Culling less security sensitive hazardous materials from the regulatory list should help reduce carrier costs and paperwork associated with PHMSA compliance.
Congress is cracking down on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (”PHMSA”), following a report by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that found the agency was granting special permits without reviewing applicants’ safety histories. Special permits and approvals exempt applicants from certain hazardous materials regulations. Currently, PHMSA does not consider or look at applicants’ incident and enforcement histories when granting exemptions. While the agency does evaluate the safety of the action, process or package that the applicant is requesting, it does not look at the company’s prior incidents. That could be changing however. In August, PHMSA came up with several ways to address the problems, including revising policy and procedures for safety documentation evaluations and developing standard operating policies and procedures for the special permits program, among others.