Dangerous Goods Advisory Council president criticizes HM-232 proposals

Alan I Roberts, president of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC), has written a letter to the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) commenting on proposals published May 2, 2002, under HM-232.

According to Roberts' letter, the DGAC is “concerned that the proposal, if adopted as written, will be very expensive (more than $500 million) in its **inplementation and will result in very limited benefit, none of which would be derived from use of registration numbers, registration certificates, and consignor/consignee names and addresses for security purposes.”

Criticisms mentioned in the letter include these excerpts:

  • “The current registration process does not include verification that a registrant is a legitimate hazardous materials shipper or carrier. Without this step in the process, anyone can apply for and receive a hazmat registration. Therefore, any attempt to use the existing process to enhance security measures will be ineffective. RSPA should first determine the lawful existence of registrants. Additionally, enforcement personnel do not have real-time access to the hazmat registration certificate database. Without this access, it is impossible to verify the authenticity of a hazmat registration certificate at the time of an inspection.

  • “The identification of the consignor and consignee on shipping papers presents problems that are similar to those related to the inclusion of hazmat registration numbers. There is currently no real-time method to verify the authenticity of these entities. Additionally, neither ‘consignor’ nor ‘consignee’ is defined in 49 CFR 171.8. The new requirement to include both the consignee and consignor on the shipping paper will have the unintended consequences of requiring multiple shipping papers for individual segments.

  • “The proposed subpart on security plans should be revised to address practical requirements that will enhance the security of hazmat transportation. For example, a corporate entity may not be able to establish a plan that may be ‘commensurate with the level of threat at a particular time,’ when threat levels have varied by the hour, as evidenced by recent public announcements from high-level government officials. And, we do not believe it is feasible for a plan to include [all] ‘possible security risks’ (172.802) when many of those risks are unknown.

  • “DGAC does not believe that RSPA has fully evaluated the issues related to training. We are not aware of any existing transportation security training materials available for general use, in particular for thousands of small businesses. Current DOT hazmat training modules do not cover transportation security. Once a final rule is issued for Docket HM-232, time will be needed to develop a basic transportation-training program. Transportation security training cannot be completed until the required security plans have been developed so that plan-specific training can be delivered. It will take several months to develop satisfactory transportation security plans and consistent training programs. Put simply, security plans must be completed before training programs. Therefore it will be impossible to train several million hazmat employees within the 90-day period following the issuance of a final rule that lends itself to development of appropriate training programs.”

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