The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a proposed rule that would require additional training for employees and new safety requirements for carriers and facilities that transfer hazardous materials to and from cargo tank motor vehicles (CTMVs). Examples of activities subject to the proposed rule include deliveries of propane or fuel oil to residences or businesses, or gasoline to local gas stations.

Key Provisions Proposed

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes to add requirements including:

  • Practice drills and classroom training of truck drivers and other workers who unload or load hazardous material;
  • Training on automatic valve shut down to ensure the systems are in place and that employees know how to use the systems; and
  • Inspection and maintenance programs to ensure the safety of hoses, valves and other equipment used in loading and unloading.

The proposal would require motor carriers to develop and document loading and unloading procedures that extend to the CTMV and associated equipment, attachments, and appurtenances. Thus, for a loading or unloading operation that takes place at a facility and is supervised by facility personnel, the motor carrier must conduct a risk assessment and develop operating procedures that are specific to the cargo tank involved in the transfer operation. The rule would require facilities that perform loading or unloading operations or provide transfer equipment to the motor carrier for loading or unloading operations to ensure that the carrier is either (a) supervised or assisted by a facility employee who is trained on the operating procedures, or (b) provided with written instructions on how to conduct the loading or unloading operation in accordance with the facility’s unique operating procedures.

Similar provisions apply to transfer operations outside a facility, such as during delivery of propane or fuel at a business or residence. PHMSA is proposing that rather than conduct a separate risk assessment of each customer location to which it delivers propane or gasoline, a carrier assess the overall risk of such operations and develop operating procedures that ensure the safety of such operations generally. PHMSA is proposing the risk assessment and operating procedures to be in writing with a copy maintained on the motor vehicle, or for facilities at the principal place of business (i.e., office at the facility where loading and unloading operations are conducted), for as long as the operating procedures remain in effect. The rule also would require that the written procedures be made available, upon request, to any authorized official of a federal, state, or local government agency at reasonable times and locations.

As proposed in the NPRM, these operating procedures must include:

  • Procedures prior to loading or unloading to (a) ensure the integrity of the cargo tank and associated transfer equipment, (b) prepare the cargo tank and equipment for the transfer operation, and (c) verify the vessel into which the material is to be transferred;
  • Loading or unloading procedures for monitoring the transfer operation;
  • Procedures for handling emergencies;
  • Procedures to ensure that all transfer equipment is disconnected and all valves and closures are secured after loading or unloading;
  • Facility oversight of carrier personnel; and
  • Design, maintenance, and testing of equipment.

What You Should Do

You may provide comments to the proposed rule to PHMSA by May 10, 2011. Be aware that PHMSA intends to announce similar requirements for railcar off-loading of hazardous materials under a separate NPRM that will be published in the Federal Register in the near future.