NACD Comments on PHMSA Loading-Unloading Notice

The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) recently filed comments on a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) notice and request for comments on the establishment of recommended practices for loading and unloading operations involving bulk packagings used to transport hazardous materials.

PHMSA is pursuing this issue based on a review of incident data, which shows that one-quarter to one-half of all serious hazardous materials incidents over the past decade may be associated with loading and unloading operations involving bulk packagings. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board have suggested safety enhancements in this area.

In the comments, NACD expresses support for performance standards to address loading and unloading operations involving bulk quantities of hazardous materials and recommends that reasonable standards be made part of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

NACD also recommends that the standards only apply to bulk packagings with a capacity of 3000 liters or greater and that the responsibilities for developing and implementing the procedures are clearly apportioned between facilities and carriers. In addition, the comments ask PHMSA to make sure that the standards are not prescriptive and duplicative of other existing regulations, but based instead on the level of hazard presented.

The comments conclude by noting that under the current HMR, PHMSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) only have the authority to regulate loading and unloading functions when the carrier personnel is present, resulting in a regulatory gap that leads to inconsistent regulation over multiple jurisdictions, compromised safety, and a lack of incident data for DOT as they do not have the authority to collect data if an incident occurs without carrier personnel present. NACD Vice President of Government & Public Affairs Jennifer Gibson says in the comments, "The most important element of any new rule on loading and unloading must include an expansion of DOT authority to regulate these functions. Only with strong federal authority can a uniform set of standards for loading and unloading of bulk packagings even be achievable."

To view the full comments, go to www.nacd.com/advocacy/comments.aspx.

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