FMCSA proposes hazmat safety permit program

| Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Aug. 19 proposed requiring all motor carriers, including Canadian and Mexico-domiciled carriers operating in the United States, to have a hazmat safety permit when transporting four types of hazardous materials in interstate or intrastate commerce.

Materials covered are highway route-controlled quantities of radioactive materials; more than 55 pounds of Class A or B explosives; more than one quart of hazardous material designated as extremely toxic by inhalation; and a package of 3,500 gallons or more of liquified natural gas.

The permit would be valid for two years. Carriers would need to have a copy of the safety permit in the vehicle transporting a designated hazardous material.

"This rulemaking builds on our continuous efforts to ensure the safety and security of the more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials hauled by motor carriers on U.S. highways every day," FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg said.

Permit required Jan. 1, 2005

Implementation would be phased in beginning Jan. 1, 2005. For carriers already transporting these materials in interstate or intrastate commerce, there would be a two-year phase-in period to obtain the safety permit. A carrier not involved in the transportation of a permitted material on Jan. 1, 2005, would need to apply for and receive the permit before transporting hazardous materials.

To obtain a permit from FMCSA, the proposal requires motor carriers to have a satisfactory rating and a satisfactory security program, and be registered with the Department's Research and Special Programs Administration.

The permit would be suspended or revoked if a motor carrier fails to maintain its satisfactory rating; fails to comply with an out-of-service order; does not comply with safety regulations, hazardous materials regulations or compatible state requirements; or fails to pay a civil penalty.

Pre-inspection required for radioactive material shipment

The rule would also require a pre-trip inspection of a CMV transporting a highway-route-controlled quantity of radioactive material. The pre-trip inspection would need to be performed by a government inspector employed by or under contract to a federal, state or local government.

However, the FMCSA would not require states to use uniform forms and procedures for intrastate transportation of hazardous materials; nor would it require states to register those transporting hazardous materials intrastate.

Additionally, the FMCSA proposes to add "acute" and "critical" regulations to assess a rating of carriers that transport hazardous materials.

Acute regulations would be those needing immediate corrective action by a motor carrier. Critical regulations would be those where noncompliance relates to management and operational controls. These regulations include failing to provide security awareness training, failure to adhere to a required security plan and failure to make copies of a security plan available to hazmat employees.

The notice of proposed rulemaking is in the Aug. 19 Federal Register. The rule is also posted on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at http://dms.dot.gov/. Comments may be submitted at http://dms.dot.gov/submit.

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