U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Contact: Andy Beck, 202-366-8810
FMCSA Proposes Establishing Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program
To enhance the safety and security of hazardous materials shipments, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today proposed requiring all motor carriers, including Canadian and Mexico-domiciled motor carriers in the United States, to have a hazardous materials safety permit when transporting four types of hazardous materials in interstate or intrastate commerce.
"Hazmat cargo represents a large segment of the freight being transported daily across America, and the Department is committed to ensuring its integrity and security," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "This proposal would coordinate the resources of two DOT agencies to enhance the safety and security of hazardous materials being transported by motor carriers."
Materials in the hazardous materials safety permit program are highway route-controlled quantities of radioactive materials; more than 55 pounds of Class A or B explosives; more than one quart of hazardous material designated as extremely toxic by inhalation; and a package of 3,500 gallons or more of liquified natural gas. The safety permit would be valid for two years. Motor carriers would need to have a copy of the safety permit in the vehicle transporting a designated hazardous material.
"This rulemaking builds on our continuous efforts to ensure the safety and security of the more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials hauled by motor carriers on U.S. highways every day," FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg said.
Implementation of the safety permit requirement would be phased in beginning Jan. 1, 2005. For motor carriers already transporting these materials in interstate or intrastate commerce, there would be a two-year phase-in period to obtain the safety permit. A motor carrier that is not involved in the transportation of a permitted material on Jan. 1, 2005, would need to apply for and receive a safety permit before transporting hazardous materials.
To obtain a safety permit from FMCSA, the proposal requires that motor carriers have a satisfactory rating, a satisfactory security program, and be registered with the Department's Research and Special Programs Administration. An intrastate carrier would be required to apply for a USDOT number as a "new entrant" and undergo a compliance review. An intrastate carrier would not become subject to other requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) unless they already apply.
The FMCSA is also proposing that a safety permit be suspended or revoked if a motor carrier fails to maintain its satisfactory rating, fails to comply with an out-of-service order, does not comply with the FMCSRs, hazardous materials regulations, or compatible state requirements, or fails to pay a civil penalty.
The rule would also require a pre-trip inspection of a commercial motor vehicle transporting a highway-route-controlled quantity of radioactive material. The pre-trip inspection would need to be performed by a government inspector employed by or under contract to a federal, state, or local government.
Under this proposed rule, the FMCSA would not require states to use uniform forms and procedures for intrastate transportation of hazardous materials nor would it require states to register those transporting hazardous materials intrastate.
Additionally, the FMCSA proposes to add "acute" and "critical" regulations to fully assess a rating of carriers that transport hazardous materials. Acute regulations would be those needing immediate corrective action by a motor carrier. Critical regulations would be those where noncompliance relates to management and operational controls. These regulations include failing to provide security awareness training, failure to adhere to a required security plan, and failure to make copies of a security plan available to hazmat employees.
Written comments on this supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking should be sent by Oct. 20 to the USDOT Docket Facility, ATTN: Docket No. FMCSA-97-2180, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001; fax (202) 493-2251. This notice of proposed rulemaking is in today's Federal Register. The rule also is posted on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at
. Comments may be submitted at
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