NTTC adds voice to concerns about RSPA security proposal

The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) has added its voice to concerns about a Research and Special Programs Administration(RSPA) proposal to improve security in the transportation of hazardous materials. In a July 3 letter to RSPA, Cliff Harvison, NTTC president, discussed proposed regulations related to registration certificates, shipping papers, security plans, training, and state and local government action.

While NTTC is in agreement with many of the proposal's regulations, it asks that certain considerations be made. In the registration certificate proposals, NTTC asks for clarification of whether the certificate should be present in the vehicle at all times, or only when the vehicle is laden with hazardous materials.

In addition, NTTC believes that compliance should become high priority during carrier reviews and roadside checks. "Absent such compliance efforts, the certificate will become just another piece of paper on the truck, and security will not be enhanced one iota," Harvison says. He calls for a joint-enforcement effort among RSPA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and representatives of the enforcement community, specifically the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

NTTC also asks that the carrier’s hazmat registration number be made permanent, arguing that a permanent number would ease carrier compliance efforts and save on paperwork. Harvison points out that if the number is not permanent, carriers will have to destroy thousands of copied certificates annually and replace them with new certificates. "Since the paperwork will have to be on board each carrier vehicle, such a cumbersome exercise can, and should be avoided," Harvison says.

With regard to shipping papers, NTTC asks for a revision of the proposed terms for the sake of editorial consistency, particularly with the terms, consignor, consignee, and offerer. For instance, in the tank truck sector, inter-plant shipments are common, thus the named consignee and consignor may be the same. Additionally, third-party logistics providers and brokers could be named consignor on shipping papers, which could provoke confusion and uncertainty in the enforcement community.

NTTC also asks the agency to note that drivers may be diverted in a shipment for various reasons. "How is the driver to record this diversion? Is the driver expected to make handwritten notations to the shipping paper or attachment? If so, would not such amended entries be considered suspicious by enforcement personnel?"

Another concern pertains to shipping papers for "empty packagings." NTTC seeks clarification and guidance on this issue.

The part of the RSPA proposal that addresses security plans is supported by NTTC as long as the final rule retains flexibility for carrier design and implementation. "It is important to recognize that security plans must involve considerable input from the shipper community," Harvison notes. "It is the shipper who has best access to information relative to the hazardous properties of the commodity. It is the shipper who controls carrier selection and order entry; loading; time and method of dispatch; and destination."

In addition, NTTC points out that industry associations have combined efforts to enhance security since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. "The final rule must allow individual carriers to include individual elements of such national programs into their individual security plans," Harvison adds.

NTTC expresses concern about the 90-day deadline for providing security training to all hazmat employees. While smaller companies have employees readily available for training, large carriers will face a major undertaking. "We would suggest a two- or three-step phase-in program for the training requirement ranging from 90 days to 180 days," Harvison says.

Finally, given the historic public concerns over the transportation of hazardous materials, amplified by the September 11 attacks, NTTC believes it is reasonable to anticipate that non-federal governments will seek to impose various restrictions on hazardous materials transportation. NTTC believes that RSPA is well-positioned to deal with this issue. The preemption determination process is working, and ample judicial precedent exists to buttress both that process and RSPA's decisions. Should jurisdictions be confronted with unique issues or circumstances, they can seek relief under existing waiver provisions, Harvison says.

To see the NTTC comments, go to www.tanktruck.org/tanktruck/news/index.html.

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