ANTITERRORISM and related security concerns occupied the attention of transportation and environmental regulators during much of the past year. That brief regulatory respite for the tank truck industry seems to be coming to an end.
A number of past initiatives are back on the front burner, along with new regulations related to hazardous materials security. It all adds up to what could be a very busy year as cargo tank operators and bulk storage terminal facilities scramble to comply with a flurry of new rules.
One rulemaking that could have widespread impact on chemical haulers and terminal operators is a pending Environmental Protection Agency initiative for vapor recovery. Entitled “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Organic Liquids Distribution (non gasoline),” the rulemaking would require significant vapor reductions at loading racks and other chemical transfer points.
Vapor recovery systems would be required on both new and existing tank trailers. This means a retrofit program could involve many thousands of stainless steel tank trailers that are already in service.
Speaking of potential retrofits, the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) appears to have revived its rulemaking for the elimination of wetlines on cargo tanks of all types. Earlier this year, RSPA filed a prerule notification with the Office of Management and Budget. No details were included in the filing, but tens of thousands of cargo tanks could be affected.
Work is winding up on HM-213, which could be published in the Federal Register any day. In addition to requiring changes in markings on emergency shutoff valves, HM-213 will affect cargo tank construction and maintenance procedures.
RSPA officials also continue to push forward with plans to make the American Society of Mechanical Engineers an integral part of the process for developing cargo tank design, construction, and repair criteria. It's a move that will have a profound impact on the entire tank truck industry.
Regulations calling for more accident protection are being developed for tube trailers, which are used to transport compressed gases. The requirements probably will be similar to those for MC330/331 and MC338 cargo tanks.
One RSPA proposal would actually save money for certain cargo tank operators. The agency has proposed changes in the rule that covers passive and remote shutdown devices on MC330/331 pressure vessels. Vehicles used for metered and non-metered deliveries no longer would need both passive and remote shutdown systems. Passive shutdown would be sufficient.
On the transport security front, federal agencies are pondering a variety of technology solutions. As part of a $2.5-million contract, Batelle, a research contractor, is working with DOT to test a range of security technologies intended to protect hazardous materials shipments.
Technologies to be tested include biometric smart cards, cargo tampering alerts, remote cargo locking and sealing, remote vehicle disabling, real-time cargo location, real-time emergency alert systems, out-of-route emergency alerts, and receiver notification and verification.
This sampling of regulatory activity focuses on the equipment side. It is just a small part of the regulatory activity that is underway. Keeping up with the regulators may become one of the biggest challenges facing tank fleet operators in 2003.