Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PHMSA Publishes HMR Security Plan Final Rule

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Tuesday published in the Federal Register a Final Rule regarding security plans for shipments of hazardous materials (hazmats) under the hazardous materials regulations (HMR) [at 49 CFR Parts 100-185]. The Rule, published at 75 Fed. Reg. 10974-89, would amend 49 CFR Part 172 to clarify that shippers and carriers of hazmats covered by HMR should adopt security plans required under the rule only after considering specific risks and vulnerabilities, as opposed to using generic security plans. The Final Rule authorizes voluntary compliance as of April 8, 2010. In order to allow companies to make required changes in their current security plans, the effective date for the Rule is October 1, 2010.

Tuesday’s Final Rule is a culmination of a regulatory process that began on September 21, 2006, with publication of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) [at 73 Fed. Reg. 55156] responding to a number of industry petitions to reduce the number of hazmats covered by HMR. PHMSA, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), conducted a review of the potential security threats facing industry in charge of hazmat transportation, concluding that the list of materials posing a significant threat of a terrorist attack while enroute could be amended. This allowed an elimination of some classes of hazmats entirely from the security plan requirement. It also allowed a reduction in the triggering quantity initially provided for other classes of hazmats, reducing coverage by the regulation.

On September 9, 2008, PHMSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for this rule [at 73 Fed. Reg. 52558], indicating that it intended to clarify the requirements for HMR security plans to address security issues along specific routes or specific locations. A number of the comments received following the NPRM indicated that there was some confusion about the impact of this wording. Accordingly, in the Final Rule published Tuesday, PHMSA revised the text of 49 CFR §172.802(a) to “more clearly state that shippers and carriers must consider site-specific risks and vulnerabilities at facilities subject to the security planning requirement” instead of simply using generic security plans. Most of the other requirements outlined in the NPRM have already been adopted as proposed.

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