Monday, December 1, 2008

HAZMAT Enhanced Enforcement Rule Comments – 11-28-08

This week there were no corporate comments received on this docket, there were a number of form letter comments from operators of retail ship centers, supporting the comments made by their national association. Those comments were submitted by: Vickie Krikorian Esther Modiano Lawrence M. Kaplan Ava Rappaport Sheila A. Kok-Leone Mike Clear Radioisotopes There was one comment from an individual, Kackie Kavanagh, who is listed as a ‘Public Submission’ in the information, though she appears to have some connection to MDS Nordion, a Canadian shipper of medical radioisotopes. She notes that breaking the security seal on one of that company’s packages would render the isotopes medically unusable. She notes that the paperwork accompanying the shipment should be proof positive of proper packaging and obviate the need for DOT inspectors to open the package. She suggests that DOT could verify the sender and receiver of such a package by contacting DHS Customs and Border Protection who maintain registration data on such cross border shipments. She notes that the Global Logistics Department of MDS Nordion would be happy to provide appropriate training to DOT inspectors about the air shipment of radioisotopes. My Comments on Comments By my count we now have 23 form letter comments supporting the position of the National Association of Retail Ship Centers in opposition to many of the provisions of this rule because they adversely affect small, independently owned mailing centers. I doubt that PHMSA will take special not of those 23 letters. Especially since this is a remarkably poor showing for an industry with 15,000 locations claimed to be affected. The comments from Ms Kavanagh appear to be of some concern, though they would have been better represented on company letterhead. DOT certainly has no intention of destroying the usefulness of these radioisotopes by unnecessarily opening any legitimate package. The only reason for DOT to open a legitimate hazmat package is to verify that it is properly packaged. It would appear that the best place to do this would be at the location where the receiver would be opening the package. Opening legitimate packages to verify proper packaging is only a secondary objective of this rule. The primary objective is to open suspect packages to detect improperly labeled or packaged shipments. The only time packages of a legitimate hazmat shipper would be opened for this purpose would be if DOT had some reason to suspect that a third party was spoofing the legitimate shipper’s markings for some illegal purpose. There is little that MDS Nordion could do to prevent this type inspection.

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