On September 7, the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to align the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) with international norms. As part of that rule, PHMSA is proposing to recognize cargo tank repairs and recertifications performed by Canadian facilities that are approved by Transport Canada as if they were performed by US-approved facilities.
National Tank Truck Carriers, as part of a hazmat shipper and transporter coalition, has advocated strongly for this change. Presently, tanks repaired or recertified in Canadian facilities can only be used in Canada, unless those facilities also undergo the duplicative process of obtaining US certification. Canada already recognizes work performed by US-certified facilities.
If the rule is adopted as proposed, the HMRs will recognize Canadian certifications as being equivalent to US certifications. This means that trailers repaired or recertified in Canada will be allowed to reenter the US legally and engage in lawful commerce.
Tank truck carriers engaged in cross-border commerce with Canada would reap significant savings from this proposed change and NTTC’s leadership plans to support the proposed change. NTTC does not expect to see significant opposition to any part of the proposed rule, meaning it should be adopted quickly.
PHMSA has indicated that if it cannot issue a final rule by the end of the year, it will issue an interim final rule effective January 1, 2017, which would incorporate many of the changes proposed in the NPRM. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not the recognition of Canadian facilities will be included in the interim rule, according to Boyd Stephenson, NTTC senior vice-president. Even if an interim rule does not include the Canadian facility recognition, a final rule should follow quickly thereafter. Once a final rule is issued, PHMSA rules usually allow compliance with either old or new rules during their implementation period, meaning work done in Canadian repair shops would immediately be acceptable on US roads.
Stephenson said it is important to note that regardless of whether a tank was certified, recertified, or repaired in Canada or the United States, the tank can only transport the types of hazardous materials it is approved for transporting in US commerce. The proposed change would recognize Canadian repairs and recertifications of tanks only. It would not grant carriers the right to transport hazardous materials in inappropriate types of tanks under the HMRs, even if the hazmat can be transported in that type of tank under Canada’s regulations.