RSPA security rule goes into effect

March 26, 2003
A Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) final rule has been published that will establish new hazmat security requirements to require hazardous

A Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) final rule has been published that will establish new hazmat security requirements to require hazardous materials shippers and carriers to develop and implement security plans. In addition, the companies must assure that employee training includes a security component, according to information published in the "Federal Register" March 25. The rule becomes effective immediately.

The new regulations apply to shippers and carriers subject to the registration requirements in 49 CFR part 107, or who offer or transport select agents and toxins regulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"I think the Department of Transportation has taken a very reasonable approach," says John Conley, National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) vice-president. "What they are asking carriers to do is what the responsible carriers are already doing."

Conley noted that shippers and carriers must have security plans in place by September 25 and employee training completed by December 22.

NTTC is preparing a plan outline that can be used as a guide by carriers and will be posted on the association's Web site by the middle of April, Conley says.

The rule requires employees to be trained in the company's security plan's specifics. All hazmat employees must receive training that provides an awareness of the security issues associated with hazardous materials transportation and possible methods to enhance that security. The training must also include a component covering how to recognize and respond to possible security threats.

Now when Department of Transportation (DOT) inspectors visit a company, they will be looking for security plans and training records related to security. If violations are found, appropriate penalty action will be initiated. Baseline penalties for these violations will be provided in a civil penalty rulemaking that RSPA expects to issue in the near future.

Hazardous materials shippers and carriers should be aware that this final rule is the first step in what may be a series of rulemakings to address the security of hazardous materials shipments, according to the information.

Although federal agencies had originally proposed that registration certificates be carried in the truck, the new rule does not make that demand. The rule also does not require shippers to include registration numbers on shipping papers.

At the same time, the original proposal to include the names and addresses of consignors and consignees on shipping papers was not included in the new rule, but RSPA is considering a modified procedures for making consignor and consignee information available to law enforcement personnel. A modified procedure may be proposed in a future rulemaking.

"We agree that a requirement for security plans should apply only to those materials that present significant security threats," the information states. "The registration and select agent and toxins lists cover the materials that present the most significant security threats in transportation and provide a relatively straightforward way to distinguish materials that may present a significant security threat from materials that do not...If a shipper or carrier determines that the security risks of the materials it handles are relatively small, then its security plan may well be limited in scope and complexity."

On the subject of companies that do not offer or transport hazardous materials in commerce, but who may operate facilities at which hazardous materials are stored during transportation--RSPA says: "We agree that the final rule should clarify responsibility for security plans applicable to hazardous materials stored incidental to movement in transportation. Generally, these hazardous materials will be stored at a shipper or carrier-owned or -operated facilities, and the shipper or carrier will be responsible for developing a security plan. In this final rule, the requirement for developing and adhering to a security plan applies to persons who offer for transportation or transport hazardous materials in commerce, including loading, unloading, or storage operations incidental to the movement of hazardous materials in commerce...For purposes of this final rule, storage incidental to movement of a hazardous material in commerce is storage that takes place between the time that a hazardous material is offered for transportation to a carrier and the time it reaches its destination."

RSPA notes that it is currently engaged in a rulemaking to clarify the applicability of the HMR to specific functions and activities, including storage of hazardous materials during transportation (HM-223; RSPA-98-4952).

To see the rule in its entirety, click here for the "Federal Register."