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25 July 2008

[Federal Register: July 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 139)]
[Page 41399-41401]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Hazardous Materials: Meeting Future Hazardous Materials 
Transportation Safety Challenges

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 

ACTION: Notice of public workshop--``Transporting Hazardous Materials 
Safely--the Next 100 Years.''


SUMMARY: PHMSA is hosting a public workshop to identify and discuss 
strategies for meeting emerging hazardous materials transportation 
safety challenges, particularly in the development of innovative safety 
solutions that provide the Department of Transportation, other federal 
agencies, state agencies, the regulated community, and emergency 
response organizations with flexible tools to manage and reduce safety 
risks. The workshop will provide an opportunity for PHMSA and its 
stakeholders to discuss the future direction of the hazardous materials 
transportation safety program, with a focus on three broad themes: (1) 
Safety, Risk Reduction, and Integrity

[[Page 41400]]

Management; (2) 21st Century Solutions: Using New Technology for 
Improved Safety Controls/Improving Safety Controls for New Technology; 
and (3) Achieving Balance and Effectiveness--Consistency and 

DATES: July 31, 2008, starting at 8:30 a.m.

ADDRESSES: The workshop will be held at the U.S. Department of Housing 
and Urban Development Conference Facility, 451 7th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20410. For information on the facilities or to request 
special accommodations at the workshop, please contact Ms. Maria Howard 
by telephone or e-mail as soon as possible.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Maria Howard, 202-266-0225, e-mail or LaToya Moore, 202-366-0656, e-mail, Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, Pipeline 
and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 
through PHMSA and other DOT operating administrations, is responsible 
for a comprehensive, nationwide program designed to protect the Nation 
from the risks to life, health, property, and the environment inherent 
in the commercial transportation of hazardous materials. This year 
marks the 100th anniversary of the hazardous materials transportation 
safety program, which originated with enactment of the Transportation 
of Explosives and Other Dangerous Articles Act (specifically, ``An Act 
to promote the safe transportation in interstate commerce of explosives 
and other dangerous articles'') on May 30, 1908. The Act charged the 
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) with formulating binding 
regulations ``in accord with the best known practicable means for 
securing safety in transit, covering the packing, marking, loading, 
handling while in transit, and the precautions necessary to determine 
whether the material when offered is in proper condition to 
transport.'' The Act specifically required the marking of every package 
containing explosives ``or other dangerous articles'' and prohibited 
false or deceptive markings, descriptions, or declarations.
    Since 1908, the federal program to minimize the risks associated 
with the commercial transportation of hazardous materials has evolved 
from its initial focus on the regulation of explosives to a broad and 
comprehensive safety and security program applicable to a wide variety 
of materials and articles shipped by multiple modes of transport across 
interstate and international boundaries and overseen by an array of 
federal and state agencies. Hazardous materials are essential to the 
economy of the United States and the well-being of its people. 
Hazardous materials fuel automobiles, and heat and cool homes and 
offices, and are used for farming and medical applications and in 
manufacturing, mining, and other industrial processes. More than 3 
billion tons of regulated hazardous materials--including explosive, 
poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and radioactive materials--are 
transported in this country each year. Over 800,000 shipments of 
hazardous materials move daily by plane, train, truck, or vessel in 
quantities ranging from several ounces to many thousands of gallons. 
These shipments frequently move through densely populated or sensitive 
areas where the consequences of an incident could be loss of life or 
serious environmental damage. Our communities, the public, and workers 
engaged in hazardous materials commerce count on the safety and 
security of these shipments.
    The system of controls and standards developed over the last 100 
years has achieved considerable success in reducing the risks posed by 
the commercial transportation of hazardous materials. As we look to the 
future, we want to build on this success, particularly in the 
development of innovative safety solutions that provide the agency, our 
federal and state partners, the regulated community, and emergency 
response officials with flexible tools to manage and reduce safety 
    To this end, PHMSA is hosting a public workshop on July 31, 2008. 
We are planning an interactive workshop that will engage our 
stakeholders on a range of topics that we consider critical to the 
future direction of the hazardous materials transportation safety 
program. This workshop will provide an opportunity for our stakeholders 
to suggest ways to improve on our vision and ideas for making the 
vision a reality. Equally important, the workshop will provide a forum 
for our stakeholders to identify common issues and problems and suggest 
synergistic strategies for addressing them. We hope that the workshop 
will surface a range of views on how to meet the challenges ahead, 
focusing on three broad areas:

1. Safety, Risk Reduction, and Integrity Management

    With safety as our top priority, the hazardous materials 
transportation safety program targets continued reduction in 
transportation risk, even as the size and complexity of the system 
grow. The program is challenged to quickly identify emerging risks and 
develop innovative, flexible, and effective safety controls to address 
those risks. For example, we are considering whether integrity 
management principles could be effectively applied to hazardous 
materials transportation activities to enhance safety. Integrity 
management is a risk reduction program that promotes continuous 
improvement in safety performance by requiring companies to collect and 
use information to guide system-specific planning and implementation of 
risk controls. PHMSA has successfully implemented integrity management 
requirements under its Pipeline Safety program, achieving improved 
safety performance without undue regulatory burden. Quality assurance 
programs may also be an effective way to identify and address system-
wide safety risks.

2. 21st Century Solutions: New Technology for Improved Safety Controls/
Improving Safety Controls for New Technology

    A second set of challenges for the hazardous materials 
transportation safety program reflects the opportunities and risks 
posed by rapid technological advances. The safety controls developed 
over the program's first 100 years need to keep pace with the demands 
of our fast-moving, far-reaching economy and transportation systems. As 
we embark on the program's second century, we are committed to 
improving the quality, reliability, and timeliness of information 
guiding all parts of the safety control system, including hazard 
communication. Because of their capabilities to improve the speed, 
accuracy, and efficiency of communications, wireless and electronic 
data systems and tools are rapidly replacing paper-based systems for 
documenting transactions, tracing shipments, and exchanging commercial 
information. As the private sector and government agencies transition 
to paperless systems, adherence to longstanding paper-based 
requirements for hazardous materials transportation places an 
increasing burden on the system, contributing to freight delays and 
congestion. At the same time, reliance on paper-based communications 
may limit the effectiveness of hazard communication and impair or delay 
response to hazmat incidents and emergencies. Deploying new 
communication technologies holds the promise of improving safety, even 
as it reduces regulatory burdens and

[[Page 41401]]

improves the performance of the transportation system.
    A related challenge is to find ways to quickly develop and 
implement appropriate safety controls for new materials or technologies 
that are not covered by current regulatory requirements. Transportation 
is key to promoting the development and widespread utilization of new 
technologies. Government and industry must be able to address possible 
safety risks associated with new materials or technologies without 
undue delays in authorizing their transportation. One strategy may be 
for a company to invest in independent, third-party analyses of safety 
risks associated with a new material or technology that would then form 
the basis for development of rigorous transportation controls that 
would be approved by PHMSA pending promulgation of more general 
regulatory requirements.

C. Achieving Balance and Effectiveness--Consistency and Uniformity

    A third challenge for the hazardous materials transportation safety 
program is to identify integrated strategies for advancing safety that 
involve the many regulatory agencies and non-federal jurisdictions with 
hazardous materials oversight responsibilities. A number of federal 
agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Department of Homeland 
Security, have regulatory authority over facilities that manufacture, 
handle, and store hazardous materials outside of transportation. In 
addition, state and local governments may elect to regulate facilities 
that manufacture or store hazardous materials within their 
jurisdictions. Because these agencies and authorities have different 
interests and goals, regulated entities are sometimes confronted with a 
myriad of differing and, perhaps, inconsistent requirements that impair 
productivity and efficiency and could adversely affect safety. At the 
same time, critical safety issues may not be addressed at all. A broad 
strategy to more closely integrate all of these programs would enhance 
system wide risk reduction through information and data sharing, early 
identification of safety problems, and leveraging of resources.
    PHMSA invites all interested persons, including state and local 
officials, emergency response personnel, and hazardous materials 
shippers and carriers, to participate in this workshop. We would like 
to use this forum to promote a dialogue among all interested 
stakeholders to help us identify the most appropriate strategies for 
identifying and addressing emerging transportation safety challenges. 
If you wish to participate in the public workshop, you must provide 
your name and organization to Ms. Maria Howard by telephone (202-366-
0225) or e-mail ( or Latoya Moore by telephone 
(202-366-0656) or e-mail ( no later than July 24, 
2008. Non-federal personnel must also provide the last five digits of 
their social security numbers. Providing this information will 
facilitate the security screening process for entry into the building 
on the day of the workshop. Participants should plan to arrive at 8 
a.m. and must present a picture ID to enter the building. Participants 
do not need to prepare oral comments, but rather, be prepared to take 
part in an open discussion on the issues outlined above.

    Issued in Washington, DC on July 15, 2008.
Theodore L. Willke,
Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety.
 [FR Doc. E8-16503 Filed 7-17-08; 8:45 am]