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Going back to 215K
Originally published:  01/06/2012
Another recent rulemaking document from PHMSA involves HM-215K, the biennial harmonisation update that was issued as a final rule on January 19, 2011. A new notice of proposed rulemaking was issued on May 25, responding to a number of administrative appeals and also taking the opportunity to update the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to take account of recent changes to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Technical Instructions regarding the carriage of battery-powered wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
Most of the appeals related to the ORM-D classification for consumer commodities, which is to be phased out in the US and replaced by the new, intermodally harmonised limited quantity system. The inevitable disappearance of the US’s unique system has been flagged up for several years but there are many in the industry who long to hold on to it, despite the problems it causes in international transport. Nevertheless, the fact that ORM-D is widely used in domestic transport and has a good safety record means that PHMSA cannot dismantle it without good reason – and international harmonisation is not a good enough reason. PHMSA has gone some way towards satisfying domestic shippers with an extension of the phase-out date for domestic rail, road and sea transport to December 31, 2015. Similarly, it will now allow the continued use of the square-on-point mark containing the UN number until the same date.
The NPRM is quite detailed and, as with the document on combustible liquids, makes interesting reading in its own right. Recent changes to the publication of the online version of the Federal Register mean that it is now much easier to track PHMSA’s regulatory publications, which can all be accessed on a single page: www.federalregister.gov/agencies/pipeline-and-hazardous-materials-safety-administration.