DOT Calls for Review of Hazardous Transport Security

With the Department of Homeland Security now armed with temporary authority to regulate security at some of the nation's chemical plants, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has set its sights on reviewing another critical link in the overall...

The petition cited several examples of hazardous materials--automobile batteries, inks, paint and flavoring extracts--that are subject to the security requirements of the rule, but are unlikely, COSTHA argues, to be the target of terrorist attack. The organization wants the agency to either adopt the same criteria as the U.N. recommendations or eliminate the security plan requirement for "quantities of hazardous materials for which placarding under the provisions of subpart F of part 172 [of the Hazardous Materials rule] is required."

The American Trucking Association (ATA) raised similar concerns in its petition. The ATA wants PHMSA to create a new subset of hazardous materials that are "security sensitive hazardous materials."

In its petition, the organization detailed its support for the materials and quantities that are subject to the current DOT hazardous materials safety permit requirements as "the starting point" for determining security sensitive hazardous materials.

The organization, which uses more than 3,500 gallons or 5,000 pounds to define "bulk" for purposes of security planning, suggested PHMSA add materials from the U.N. list, including bulk shipments of perchlorates, ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate fertilizers.

PHMSA said in its notice that it agrees with the two organizations that "the list of materials for which a security plan is required should be re-assessed."

Such a review is timely and warranted, PHMSA said, because "both the industry and the government have had three years of experience evaluating security risks associated with specific hazardous materials and transportation environments and identifying appropriate measures to address those risks."

The agency will take comments until Dec. 20 on how it might revise the rule. A public meeting will be held Nov. 30 in DOT's Nassif Building.