Problems Remain in PHMSA's Hazmat Permits Oversight

The DOT inspector general testified Sept. 10 that the department's leadership has directed PHMSA to implement an action plan, but oversight of permit holders' safety compliance remains an issue.

While crediting DOT's top two leaders for directing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to implement an action plan to address the problems, DOT Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III testified Sept. 10 before the House Transportation Committee that PHMSA's oversight of permit holders' safety compliance remains an issue. About 5,500 special permit holders and 118,000 approvals currently exist, he said.

PHMSA grants both kinds of approval "without exercising its regulatory authority to review applicants' safety histories and without coordinating with partner safety agencies," the IG's office said in the introduction to the report Scovel presented. "Despite these weaknesses, PHMSA does not target individuals and companies that hold special permits and approvals for safety compliance reviews. These issues -- along with safety concerns previously raised by our office, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board -- call into question the effectiveness of PHMSA's process for granting special permits and approvals."

The report is available here.

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