DG Digest: PHMSA Clarifies Special Permit Process, Adds Hazmat Training FAQs, and Issues Monkeypox Guidance

The Surface Transportation Board is having a meeting of its Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee in Mid-April. A Norfolk Southern train hauling crude oil approaches Hammond, Indiana on a winter morning in March of 2015. Image © 3/2015 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

It’s mid-March, and the formal beginning of Spring is just a day or two away. Hopefully, every will have a chance to enjoy the improving weather and perhaps a spring break holiday. Be sure to include appropriate safety planning in your spring events! Here’s the last week’s extremely busy regulatory news:


The agency published a notice informing interested parties on how PHMSA evaluates and determines whether a special permit can be considered consistent with the public interest. This notice outlines the criteria PHMSA used to evaluate special permit applications on the basis of public interest. The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) have many performance-oriented regulations that provide the regulated community some flexibility in meeting safety requirements. PHMSA is authorized to issue variances from the HMR via special permits, which set forth alternative requirements to those currently in the HMR. This notice gives some background to that process and PHMSA’s considerations of when to grant or not grant any given Special Permit. See this notice here.

In a new and very interesting addition to its growing “Frequently Asked Questions” library, the agency has published a new tranche of such FAQ’s dealing specifically with its training requirements for hazmat employees. This is a subject which generates many questions and causes a lot of anxiety to stakeholders, so this is a welcome new resource to see how PHMSA itself interprets it rules around the subject. See the new FAQ addition here.

In a new Safety Advisory, the agency is sharing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding diagnostic samples and clinical waste containing Monkeypox virus (MPXV) in Clade I or II. The advice clarifies that samples and clinical waste should be designated as Category B infectious substances except when they contain or are contaminated with cultures of Clade I MPXV. See the advisory here.

Transport Canada

In useful new guidance, Transport Canada has published a document advising stakeholders on how to compliantly complete DG shipping papers for various transport modes. See it here.


In a proposed rule, EPA is proposing to amend the “All-Appropriate Inquiries Rule” to reference ASTM International’s E2247–23 ‘‘Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property’’ and allow for its use to satisfy the requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. This will supersede the current references. See the NPRM here.


The agency has published an ICR related to its Beryllium Standard. Beryllium is a heavy metal used in many industrial applications that can be a health hazard if inappropriately handled. See the ICR here.


The department published a revised semi-annual regulatory agenda that includes actions related to OSHA enforcement under the 29 CFR. See the agenda here.


The “Surf Board” announced a meeting of the Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee (RETAC), pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Among other things, the committee considers issues related to safe transport of hazardous energy products like gas or petroleum. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at 9:00 a.m. Find details here.

US Coast Guard

The service issued an ICR related to marine transport of bulk solids requiring special handling (i.e., dangerous goods). See it here.

In a second hazmat ICR, the service is issuing collection requirements related to marine transport of hazardous chemicals. See this ICR here.

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