Earlier this week the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a proposed rule governing security plans for commercial shipments of hazardous materials. This proposed rule would modify security provisions of the current The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180). Comments on this proposed rule are required to be submitted by November 10, 2008.
PHMSA provides the following summary of this proposed rule:
- “PHMSA, in consultation with the Transportation Safety (sic) Administration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is proposing to modify its current security plan requirements governing the commercial transportation of hazardous materials by air, rail, vessel, and highway. Based on an evaluation of the security threats associated with specific types and quantities of hazardous materials, the proposed rule would narrow the list of materials subject to security plan requirements and reduce associated regulatory costs and paperwork burden. The proposed rule also would clarify certain requirements related to security planning, training, and documentation and incorporate and build on recent international standards governing hazardous materials security.”
The major change included in this proposed rule is a reduction in the number of chemicals which required the completion of a transportation security plan. Originally the regulation required all placarded loads of hazardous chemicals to be accompanied by a security vulnerability assessment and a security plan. Industry noted that not all hazardous chemicals could be used as a terrorist weapon or could be used to make weapons of mass destruction.
PHMSA used the United Nations Recommendation on high consequence dangerous goods as the starting point for their list of covered chemicals. They looked at classes of chemicals included in the current rule, but not listed in the UN Recommendations to see if those chemicals would serve as a target for terrorist attack either as a release agent, a chemical that could be used to manufacture WMD, or chemicals that could be sabotaged or modified to create a chemical incident at some manufacturing facility. Those chemicals that met those criteria were retained in the proposed security regulations.
Clarification to Security Plan Requirements
PHMSA is taking the opportunity in this proposed rule to clarify some parts of the security plan requirements that have been confusing to the regulated community. These changes include clarification of the requirement to:
- Have a written security assessment that identifies specific risks that exist on specific routes or in specific locations.
- Identify, by job title, the senior management official responsible for the overall development and implementation of the plan.
- Review the security plan at least annually and update the plan if circumstances change.
- Provide for training hazmat employees. That training must include security duties for each position or department that is responsible for the plan's implementation and the process for notifying employees when specific elements of the security plan must be implemented.
TSA and the PHMSA Rule
There is a certain amount of overlap in the authority to regulate security matters in the transportation sector. The PHMSA has the authority to issue regulations covering the safe and secure transportation of hazardous material. DHS is the lead Federal agency for transportation and hazardous materials security. This rule pledges to continue to coordinate with the TSA to ensure that there are no conflicts with the security regulations issued by the two agencies.