Best Practices Recommended for Hazmat Bulk Loading, Unloading

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed recommended practices on Jan. 4 for loading and unloading operations involving bulk packages used to transport hazmats. The DOT agency said in its Federal Register notice that its review of recent incidents showed about 25 to 50 percent of all serious hazmat incidents may be associated with such operations with cargo tank trucks and rail tank cars. PHMSA asked for comments from stakeholders by Feb. 8.

The agency also looked at recent CSB and NTSB investigations. What it has found indicates " there may be opportunities to enhance the safety of such operations," it said, inviting comments on whether there are gaps or overlaps in regulations PHMSA, OSHA, EPA, and Coast Guard regulations that reduced the safety of these operations.

Last February, PHMSA issued a summary report that showed 27 percent of all 2004-2006 serious incidents occurred during bulk loading and unloading operations, and hazmat shipments moving by highway and rail in bulk packaging were involved in about 90 percent of high-consequence events during that period.

The proposed recommended practices ask shippers, carriers, and facility operators to conduct a thorough hazard analysis, then develop a step-by-step guide to loading and unloading that is clear, concise, and appropriate to the level of training and knowledge of their employees. Inspections, security, bonding and grounding, temperature monitoring, flow control, training, emergency response, and other factors also are addressed in the recommendations, which were issued over the signature of Theodore L. Willke, PHMSA's associate administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety.

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