Intermodal portable tank unloading proposal buys operators time to conform to regulations
Mar 1, 2002 12:00 PM
THE RESEARCH and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) proposes to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to permit, for an interim period and subject to certain conditions, the unloading of intermodal (IM) portable tanks transporting certain liquid hazardous materials that are not equipped with a thermal means of remote activation of internal self-closing stop-valves fitted on bottom discharge outlets. Permitting such unloading for an interim period would afford operators time to bring the IM portable tanks into conformance with regulations.
RSPA published a final rule July 10, 1998, under Docket RSPA-97-2905 amending the HMR by incorporating miscellaneous changes based on petitions for rulemaking and its own initiative. The effective date of this rule was Oct 1, 1998.
The final rule allows an IM portable tank transporting a liquid hazardous material that is flammable, pyrophoric, oxidizing, or toxic, to be unloaded while remaining on a transport vehicle with the power unit attached, provided outlet requirements in 49 CFR 178.345-11 and attendance requirements in 49 CFR 177.834(i) are met. Section 178.345-11 includes requirements for loading/unloading outlets on cargo tanks to be equipped with self-closing systems with remote means of closure capable of thermal activation at temperatures not more than 250°F. Sec 177.834(i) includes requirements for ensuring that cargo tanks are attended by a qualified person during loading and unloading.
RSPA received three petitions for reconsideration to the July 10, 1998, final rule. The Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC), the Tank Container Association (TCA), and Merck & Co Inc requested a 2 ½-year extension of the compliance date, saying it was not feasible to equip existing IM portable tanks with fusible links by Oct 1, 1998.
On Oct 30, 1998, a final rule was published denying the three petitions. Denial was based on RSPA's belief that unloading an IM portable tank in the same manner as a cargo tank, but without the same outlet requirements, poses increased safety risks in a fire situation when an operator is not able to activate the closure manually.
Appeal of RSPA's denial
The agency then received an appeal of the denial from TCA, reiterating the request for extending the compliance date 2 ½ years. It also received a petition for rulemaking from the DGAC, requesting adoption of operating conditions for unloading an IM portable tank with no thermal means of remote activation of internal self-closing stop-valves installed on bottom discharge outlets, when it is on a transport vehicle.
DGAC also requested a three-year extension of the compliance date to assure sufficient time to equip all tanks.
After re-examining the issues, RSPA is proposing to permit, for an interim period, an IM portable tank not currently equipped with a thermal means of remote activation of the internal self-closing stop-valve fitted on bottom discharge outlets, to be unloaded while remaining on a transport vehicle under certain conditions.
RSPA proposes to permit such unloading operations until Oct 1, 2003. On and after that date, an IM portable tank containing a hazardous material that is flammable, pyrophoric, oxidizing or toxic, could not be unloaded while remaining on a transport vehicle with the power unit attached unless it fully conforms to the outlet requirements in Sec 178.275(d)(3).
The agency also proposes to change the outlet section reference for IM portable tanks from Sec 178.345-11 to Sec 178.275(d)(3). In a final rule published June 21, 2001, it added Sec 178.275(d)(3) to address requirements for equipping UN portable tanks with a thermal means of remote activation of internal self-closing stop-valves fitted on bottom discharge outlets.
Requirements to be met
RSPA proposes to revise Sec 177.834(o) to permit, until Oct 1, 2003, unloading of an IM portable tank not meeting outlet requirements in Sec 175.275(d)(3), provided certain unloading conditions are met. Shipper and carrier would share responsibility for verifying that the consignee's facility meets conditions and that these requirements are met:
The facility at which the IM portable tank is to be unloaded must have systems in place that conform to applicable OSHA fire suppression requirements in 29 CFR 1910.106(e); emergency shutdown requirements in 29 CFR 1910.119(f); and OSHA's and EPA's emergency response planning requirements in 29 CFR 1910.119(f) and 40 CFR part 68, respectively; or equivalent or more stringent non-federal requirements; and an emergency discharge control procedure in place applicable to unloading operations, including instructions for handling emergencies that may occur during the unloading operation.
Public access to the unloading area must be controlled to ensure that public access is denied during unloading.
Attendance requirements in Sec 177.834(o) must be met.
Prior to unloading, the operator of the vehicle on which the IM portable tank is transported must ascertain the conditions in proposed paragraph (o) are met.
Persons performing unloading functions must be trained in handling emergencies that may occur during unloading.
In Sec 173.32, as amended under HM-215D, RSPA proposes to revise paragraph (g)(1) by removing the reference to Sec 177.834(i)(2).
RSPA proposes to revise Sec 177.834(o) further to clarify the requirement for a thermal means of remote activation of bottom discharge outlets applies only to liquid hazardous materials that are flammable, pyrophoric, oxidizing, or toxic.
Comments must be received by April 8, 2002. Address them to the Dockets Management System, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St SW, Room PL 401, Washington, DC 20590-0001. Comments must identify Docket #RSPA-01-10533 (HM-218A). All comments also may be submitted and reviewed by accessing http://dms.dot.gov. For further information, contact Office of Hazardous Materials Standards, RSPA, 400 Seventh St SW, Washington DC 20590-0001; phone 202-366-8553.
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