DG Digest: PHMSA issues enforcement notice regarding ICAO Technical Instructions and IMDG Code

The FRA issued an ICR related to safety appliances aboard freight and passenger equipment.  An Amtrak Cascades Service train passes a BNSF freight movement in Christopher, Washington on September 27th, 2020.  Image © 9/2020 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

As we move into the first full week of October, it’s good to note that across much of the country, this week is Fire Prevention Week.  While all of us are concerned with the ongoing pandemic and responses to it, we should all bear in mind that all of the other, and more typical hazards to our homes and workplaces haven’t gone away either.  Now’s a great time to review your fire safety plans, check any installed equipment, provide tips and training to employees, and do everything you need to ensure fire safety.  The week saw several items of regulatory note; here’s the latest news:


In the week’s most notable news, the agency issued a notice of enforcement that while it:

  1. continues to evaluate whether to propose the inclusion of the 2021-2022 Edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions and Amendment 40-20 of the IMDG Code in a future notice of proposed rulemaking; and
  2. potentially adopts these updated standards in a future final rule

The agency will meanwhile not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who is using these standards when all or part of the transportation is by air with respect to the ICAO Technical Instructions, or all or part of the transportation is by vessel with respect to the IMDG Code. In addition, PHMSA will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who offers or accepts for domestic or international transportation by any mode packages marked or labeled in accordance with these standards.

This enforcement discretion has been coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the United States Coast Guard, and PHMSA and our four modal partners will exercise the enforcement discretion together. This notice is limited to the use of the standards incorporated by reference in 49 CFR § 171.7(t) and (v). Offerors and carriers must comply with all other obligations under the HMR and other applicable laws. This notice will remain in effect until withdrawn or otherwise modified.  The notice is effective October 1st, 2020. See the formal notice here.


The agency published an ICR related to export notification requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA.  The ICR mandates the reporting of TSCA listed chemical substance exports above certain thresholds. See the notice here.


The agency published a correction to its recent ICR notice dealing with the required industry drug & alcohol testing programs governed by its various sub-agencies.  The correction edits the previous notice to eliminate typographical errors. See the correction here.

 U.S. Coast Guard

The service published an ICR related to the transfer of oil and other hazardous materials by vessel. It will use the data to determine if current safety standards are sufficient or if further action might be needed to improve the practice. See the ICR here.


The agency issued an ICR related to the safety standards for multi-purpose lighters.  Lighters are regulated as hazardous materials for transport.  The ICR seeks to gather information about current safety certifications for manufacturers and importers. See the ICR here.


The agency issued an ICR related to the status of safety equipment and markers installed aboard rail transport equipment.  The ICR will be used to help determine if further requirements might be needed to enhance safety on the active railroad. See the ICR here.

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