NITL appeals release of HM-223 final rule

Formal release by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) of HM-223, the final rule on applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) to hazmat transportation, has prompted the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) and other groups to file an administrative appeal with the agency.

The league told RSPA that it believes the final rule “fails to achieve certainty, uniformity, and predictability in application of hazardous materials regulations because it creates unpredictable ‘on-again, off-again’ regulation of shipments of hazardous materials moving in commerce.”

Another basis of NITL's appeal stems from what it believes is a “strained reading of the statute” by the agency. In particular, the league noted that RSPA's interpretation of the word “transportation” has been read improperly and ignores the word's distinct meaning under federal hazmat transportation law. While “transportation” is defined as “movement” and “loading, unloading, and storage incidental to movement,” the league said RSPA has chosen to look at transportation in a “discrete, activity-by-activity approach.” This has resulted in the development of a rule that is “sporadic rather than the comprehensive regulation which Congress envisioned.”

In making its December 1 appeal with RSPA, the league asked for 90 days from the Federal Register publication date of the final rule to prepare and file a supplemental submission.

The final rule is not scheduled to take effect until Oct 1, 2004. For a complete copy of the league's letter to RSPA, access www.nitl.org/rspaletter.pdf.

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