Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PHMSA Adjusts Fines for HMR Violations

The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Tuesday published in the Federal Register a Final Rule adjusting upwards the minimum and maximum civil fines for violations of the hazardous materials regulations (HMR) [at 49 CFR Parts 100-185]. These increases are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for 2005 (the last time the fines were adjusted) and for 2008 (the last full year for which data is available). The new rates published in the December 29, 2009 Final Rule become effective December 31, 2009, and are applicable to any violation of the HMR made after January 1, 2010.

The new rule increases the minimum fine for an HMR violation from $250 to $275 dollars, except for a violation relating to training. HMR training violation fines increase from $450 to $495. Maximum fines are increased from $50,000 to $55,000, except where the HMR violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property. In those cases, the maximum fine increases from $100,000 to $110,000. No changes were made by the Final Rule to the fines for criminal offenses under the HMR.

The rule modifies the fines listed in 49 CFR §107.329(a), §107.329(b), and §171.1. No advance notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) was required because these fine adjustments were required by law. PHMSA has certified that this final rule will “not have an significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities” because “there is no economic impact on any person who complies with Federal hazardous material transportation law and the regulations, orders, special permits, and approvals issued under that law” (74 FR 68702).

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