A recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General (IG) memorandum has criticized how the agency’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) processes explosive classification approvals. According to the memo, DOT lacks an “effective evaluation process for reviewing and authorizing explosive classification approvals” and has “ineffective oversight of the four laboratories authorized to examine and test explosives.”

One problem identified is that under its regulations, PHMSA must test and classify new explosives but does not have “uniform, formalized guidance” for doing so. The memo recommends that PHMSA conduct a baseline assessment to reconfigure operations and procedures to ensure that the agency has an effective process to evaluate explosive classification procedures and oversee authorized testing labs. It also recommends that the agency take a more proactive approach to resolving safety issues.