In a recent Final Rule, The Federal Railway Administration (FRA) has increased or modified its penalties for hazardous materials violations involving rail shipments.
The Final Rule, RIN 2130–ZA11, reflects Title III of Division C of MAP–21(Pub. L. 112–141), the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2012. This Act revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for violations of Federal laws regarding hazardous materials transportation. FRA has therefore updated its references to the maximum and minimum civil penalties for hazardous materials violations in its own guidelines.
In Part 209 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), the FRA has made the following changes:
- The maximum civil penalty has been increased to $75,000 from $50,000 for “knowing violations” of any requirement of a Federal hazardous materials transportation law. This also applies to violations regarding orders, special permits or approvals issued by the DOT.
- The maximum fine has been increased from $100,000 to $175,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.
- The minimum civil penalty of $250 was eliminated. However, a minimum civil penalty of $450 was retained for violations regarding training.
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We’ve turned our clocks backwards, started our holiday preparations, and maybe even bought new calendars for 2013. But there’s one other thing that should be on our minds for the New Year, at least for shippers in the United States. We must make sure that our shipping descriptions are in order.
In 2006, a Final Rule, Docket No. PHMSA–06–25476, known as HM-215I, was issued by the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The goal of this rule was to bring the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) into line with the current UN Recommendations for Transport of Dangerous Goods. One major change was that the shipping description order, as described in 49 CFR section 172.202(a), would be rearranged to reflect the international standard.
Originally, the shipping description order was prescribed as:
- Shipping name, hazard class, identification number and packing group (if applicable)
However, HM-215I changed this order to:
- Identification number, shipping name, hazard class, and packing group (if applicable)
PHMSA recognized that making this change would take some time, and granted a six-year transition period. After all, making this change would include retraining workers who prepare or read shipping papers, reprogramming computerized document systems, and rewriting standard operating procedures regarding shipping papers. However, the transition period is reaching its end. Starting on January 1, 2013, shipping papers must be in the “identification number first” order.
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How many times have you gotten something home from a store, and then decided it had to go back? Returns by customers, which then have to be returned by the store to distribution centers, are a fact of life for retailers today, enough that the process has its own name – “reverse logistics”. And while it’s easy enough to do for DVDs or clothing, if the returned product is a hazardous material, it can become a regulatory nightmare. Therefore, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has announced an Advanced Notification of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to study how this process should be regulated in the United States.
Nowadays, many consumer products contain hazardous materials – not just obvious chemicals, such as paints and cleaning products, but battery-powered electronics such as cellphones, and engine-driven equipment such as lawnmowers and snowblowers. Unfortunately, staff receiving the returned material at stores may not be trained in the proper way to handle and prepare hazardous materials.
For example, if a can of flammable paint or a broken mp3 player is returned to a store, the employees must (1) identify it as hazardous, (2) repackage it as a hazardous material, and (3) provide appropriate hazard communication, such as package labels and shipping documents. To make matters even more complicated, the “Consumer Commodity (ORM-D)” provisions that allowed many such products to be transported easily are being phased out. While the “Limited Quantity” provisions that are replacing consumer commodities also provide relief from most requirements, store personnel will have be retrained to understand the new system.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is asking governments to support the development of biofuels to ensure the emerging industry is a staple supplier for air travel and help to reduce carbon emissions.
The group’s annual general meeting in Beijing is this week (June 11-15, 2012) and IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said that airlines have undertaken many flights using such fuels, but supply is low and cost is prohibitively high.
As such, governments need to adopt policies to help support the commercialization of biofuels to “bring up the volume and bring down the price,” Tyler said, according to Businessweek.
The conference is even devoting a panel discussing the topic of the commercialization of biofuels. The IATA represents 240 airlines including American Airlines and British Airways. Its members comprise 84 percent of global air traffic.
The low carbon fuel is seen as a potential way for the airline industry to halt its spiraling emissions totals. Although the industry accounts for only 3 percent of global CO2 emissions, it is the fastest growing source of such gasses, Businessweek reports.
Airlines United and Alaska have been taking test flights using biofuels since November. In January, German carrier Lufthansa announced it was ending trials using biofuels to power flights due to a lack of reliable supplies. The trial saw Lufthansa carry out 1,187 biofuel flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt.
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On March 10, 2012, Transport Canada published a proposed amendment to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) in Canada Gazette 1. This amendment, called Amendment 11, will, when finalized, address a number of problematic points in the current TDG System.
The significant changes proposed in Amendment 11 include the following:
- The definition of “person” will be changed for clarity, and a definition of “organization” will be added. This is to align with the meanings already established in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (TDGA), in 2009.
- Section 1.15, the “150 kg exemption”, is proposed to be changed allow for easier ransport of consumer-type aerosols. The proposed change will allow up to six aerosol containers to be transported in an outer packaging that is not UN specification. This fixes a problem introduced in Amendment 6; the current regulations allow most products transported under these provisions to be transported in non-standardized packaging, but does not exempt Class 2 materials. This was aimed at requiring cylinders to be tested and certified, but aerosols were not given an exception for their outer packagings. Companies that use section 1.15 to transport small, consumer-type aerosols are currently required to obtain a permit that exempts them from this requirement.
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