DG Digest: HM-215N Published in the March 30th Federal Register

The FRA issued new video guidance for emergency response to various railroad related incidents, including identifying and mitigating hazardous materials and guiding on-scene responders towards correct initial evaluations. A southbound BNSF freight move waits for a Seattle Sound transit commuter train to pass in Auburn, Washington on March 28th, 2017. Image © 3/2017 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

April arrives with a roar!  The long awaited PHMSA HM-215N UN Harmonization final rule originally scheduled for a January 26th publication FINALLY made it into the Federal Register on March 30th.  See below for amplifying major details.  That’s definitely the elephant in this week’s regulatory room; the EU and the USDOT’s FRA provide the other news items this week:


HM-215N is, as noted above, published!  The rule mirrors most of what has already appeared in the 19th Edition of the UN Model Regs, as well as the relevant portions of the IMDG Code and ICAO TI.  Here’s a rundown of the most high-impact items (this list should not be considered exhaustive—the rule stretches well over a hundred pages!):

  • The Rule is backdated to be effective 1/2/2017.  Mandatory compliance is set for 1/1/2018 unless specified otherwise in the text
  • 171.7 now includes by reference the newest versions of sundry international regs including the 2017-2018 ICAO TI, the 38th Amendment to the IMDG Code, the 19th Revised Edition of the UN Model Regulations, the 6th Revised Edition of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, the 6th Revised Edition of the GHS system, and certain updates to Transport Canada’s TDGR
  • PHMSA both adopted new and modified other existing definitions in 171.8
  • Certain recognitions of cylinders, cargo tank repair facilities and equivalency certificates to include those described in the Canadian TDG Regulations.  Some of this is conditional
  • New and modified DGL entries and packing instructions, notably for rocket motors and the proper shipping name splits and UN number assignments associated with engines. PHMSA also adopted new entries for polymerizing substances and updated the list of organic peroxides
  • The new lithium battery mark, used for small batteries, replaces US requirements in 185(c)(3) and the ICAO lithium battery handling label
  • The new Class 9 label for lithium batteries is specified
  • The “safety document” accompanying small and medium battery shipments is no longer required
  • The exception for marking packages containing up to 2 batteries or 4 cells installed in equipment remains; however, the number of packages per consignment is limited to 2
  • New or modified special provisions, notably addressing the revised polymers situation as well as (perhaps inevitably) more unique qualifiers regarding lithium batteries.  SP422 kicks off the revised lithium battery label, allowing a 2-year transition period (January 1, 2019)

Here’s a link to the rule


The nation’s rail safety agency has issued additional guidance for emergency response in the event of spills and other incidents.  The new video offers help to the response community in quickly identifying and planning correct mitigation efforts for various scenarios involving hazardous amterials and other potential trouble items. See the video here


The EU’s analog to the US Hazard Communication Standard, known as the CLP, is changing.  A new Annex VIII will modify and harmonize the provision of emergency response information on product labeling across both the consumer and industrial sectors, although transition dates will vary.  If you import to the EU—this news is for you. See the link here

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