HM-218D – The US Moves Forward on Gasohol and Other Updates

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Courtesy of The Compliance Center (ICC)

On January 28, the US DOT passed Amendment HM-218D. This final rule adopts various updates and amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of 49 CFR, and is intended to provide relief to industry by clarifying and, in some cases, relaxing certain requirements.

A major goal of this amendment is to help the environment by simplifying the shipment of Gasohol, a blend of gasoline with ethanol, usually obtained from corn. A new entry for Gasohol reads “Ethanol and gasoline mixtures or Ethanol and motor spirit or Ethanol and petrol mixture, with more than 10% ethanol, 3, UN 3475, II”. It is coupled with a revision to an existing entry that can be used for domestic shipment only, using NA1203 and the shipping name Gasohol, which applies only if the concentration of ethanol exceeds 20 per cent. The DOT hopes that incorporating the new international entry will enhance the effectiveness of hazard communication and response by aligning the descriptions with emergency response protocols. Because these protocols vary based on the concentration of ethyl alcohol in a gasoline mixture, differentiating in the classification of blends is critical to effective hazard communication. To minimize the cost of switching to the new description, these requirements will not become mandatory until 2010, however, shippers are allowed to comply immediately if they prefer.

Other updates were made to the entries on the Hazardous Materials Table for hydrazine solutions, polyamines, sodium aluminate and radioactives in Type A packages, to enhance harmonization with international standards.

The DOT will expand the small quantity exceptions for Flammable Liquids, Class 3, in Packing Group II and III, Class 4 materials (Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible and Dangerous When Wet), Oxidizers in Division 5.1, Toxic Substances in Division 6.1, Corrosive Substances in Class 8, and Class 9 (Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods). Containers of 1 mL or 1 g or less of these substances may be shipped as non-regulated by 49 CFR, if they are packaged according to requirements given in section 173.4(e).

Under 49 CFR, Marine Pollutants are not considered regulated if transported by ground in non-bulk packaging. This has led to situations where goods originally shipped by ground were then transported by water as non-regulated. To help prevent this, section 172.303(l) has been amended to clarify that when any part of the shipment is by water, the document must describe the marine pollutants as hazardous.

A clarification of marking limited quantities that are hazardous substances has been added, indicating that the letters “RQ” should be marked beside the UN number and diamond marking, if that is used. Also, a clarification was added that Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) with a volume of 1.8 m3 or more must be labeled on at least two sides or two ends.

A definition was added for “household wastes” to clarify what materials in this category are excepted from the regulations. There were clarifications made for transportation of dry ice on aircraft, detonator assemblies, and packagings authorized for the transportation of certain explosives. Standards for chlorine shipping were updated by incorporating standards issued by the Chlorine Institute and the Compressed Gas Association. Other minor clarifications and corrections were made.

These changes become effective on October 1, 2008. However, voluntary compliance may begin immediately.

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