DG Digest: Lloyd’s of London Reports on Maritime Cargo Incidents, PHMSA to Align with International Regs, and RSC’s Next Meeting Announced

The FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) will meet in September as part of its normal review process. Summer action on tank car standards, crew staffing (like aboard this Union Pacific local train seen in Kent, Washington earlier this month), and Positive Train Control (PTC) are expected to be prominent on the agenda. Image © 8/2016 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) will meet in September as part of its normal review process. Summer action on tank car standards, crew staffing (like aboard this Union Pacific local train seen in Kent, Washington earlier this month), and Positive Train Control (PTC) are expected to be prominent on the agenda. Image © 8/2016 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

Perhaps understandably given that it’s the last week of the summer season as traditionally end-bracketed by the upcoming Labor Day holiday, this edition of the DG Digest is a bit threadbare in terms of its scope of fresh news this morning.  Nevertheless, here we go:

Maritime

  • The US Coast Guard published a notice correcting an error in the cargo securing manuals rule it published back in May.  See the correction here
  • In news from abroad, Lloyd’s of London, the famous insurance and information provider to the maritime shipping industry, reports that published data from shipping industry group “The P&I Club” indicates that up to 27% of trouble incidents related to cargo aboard container ships may be caused by misdeclared cargo, including Dangerous Goods.  The IMDG Code explicitly requires the correct proper shipping name assignment, classification, etc as a condition of compliant shipment; while those of us who do not sail aboard ocean going vessels may think of this as more of a paperwork exercise (albeit legally required), the fact remains that further down the transport chain, life and death issues could arise at sea from incorrect paperwork.  Find out more about the story here

PHMSA

In the “pending action” column, list the upcoming release of a new PHMSA NPRM.  The proposed rule, HM-215N, is part of the routine annual action which will harmonize, to the degree that PHMSA intends, US regs in the 49 CFR Parts 100 – 185 with international regulations.  As usual, lithium batteries lead the list of the most relevant items that will see modification, including newly revised labeling requirements and the deletion of certain document requirements.  A summary of notable action includes:

  • Updating the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT 49 CFR 172.101)
  • Give complex new treatment to polymerizing substances—this an adder from the 19th revision of the UNMR
  • Assorted changes to the Marine Pollutant List
  • Packaging for Water-Reactive Materials By Vessel –PHMSA is proposing significantly upgraded packaging—a harmonization with fresh IMO rules
  • The lithium battery changes noted above
  •  Major changes to UN numbers and proper shipping names associated with internal combustion engines and equipment
  • The incorporation of sundry US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Proposals in the NPRM, including:
    • Recognition of TC Cylinders
    • Recognition of Equivalency Certificates
    • Recognition of Inspection and Repair of Cargo Tanks

Further treatment of this new proposal including more detailed information on its actions will follow in this column AFTER formal publication in the Federal Register.  Meanwhile, see the draft here—note, it is a draft only, until formal publication, and should be treated as such.

Rail

The FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee, a joint government/industry working group, announced its next meeting, to be held in mid-September in Washington DC.  While not well known to the public, the RSC is where much of the “boots on the ground” work of upgrading rail safety regulations gets done.  See the meeting news here


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