PHMSA Publishes Final Rule HM-231 – Packaging of HM

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Courtesy of The Compliance Center (ICC)

On Tuesday, February 1, 2010, the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule under Docket HM-231 regarding packaging requirements in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). The final rule is effective October 1, 2010, with voluntary compliance allowed as of March 4, 2010.

In the final rule, PHMSA has revised several packaging requirements with the intent to provide more flexibility in compliance, improve clarity and provide a reduction in some regulatory requirements. In addition to minor clarifications and amendments, this final rule revises and adds definitions in section 171.8 regarding packaging; adds provisions and Subparts related to the authorization of Large Packagings for use; and allows provisions for stenciling the “UN” symbol onto specification packagings.

In addition, HM-231 makes significant changes to the requirements for packaging closure instructions as they relate to both packaging manufacturers and shippers. Paragraph 178.2(c)(1)(B) has been revised to clarify that closure instructions must provide for a repeatable means of closure for all packaging types. This revisions is intended to clarify that closure methods must be consistent, but do not necessarily require specific tools or instruments. The rulemaking also introduces a requirement for retention of the closure instructions by both packaging manufacturers and shippers for a period of at least 365 days. Exceptions have been made for packagings that have the closure instructions permanently printed or embossed on the packaging. PHMSA feels that “a hazmat employee’s ability to properly close a hazardous materials packaging is significantly compromised without the manufacturer’s closure instructions”, and has made these amendments to help ensure that the packagings are closed as the manufacturer intended.

This final rule also revises section 178.601(g) to include a requirement to document the methodology and decision making process used to determine that a packaging maintains an equivalent of performance, as allowed in Variation 1. It is not the intent of the rulemaking to impose such detailed analysis as to negate the benefit of the variation itself. The type and detail of documentation necessary will vary based on the specific changes made to the original packaging design. The documentation must be prepared and maintained as specified in paragraph 178.601(l).

Since this rulemaking is quite extensive, ICC The Compliance Center, Inc’s regulatory specialists will be reviewing it in detail and providing additional information and interpretations as necessary.

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