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FMCSA: Federal law preempts DC hazmat rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has determined that federal law preempts the Washington DC Council's attempt to prohibit certain hazardous materials transportation within two miles of the Capitol and nearby federal buildings.

"The principle of the Department of Transportation's controlling role in hazardous materials transport is essential to safety," says John Conley, president of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc (NTTC). "This DOT ruling certainly reaffirms that fact. Hopefully, it will discourage similar actions by cities and towns across the United States."

The FMCSA decision, published April 10 in the Federal Register, follows the DC Council's decision in February 2005 that would have required carriers to obtain a permit from the Washington DC Department of Transportation to transport hazmat products within the stated area.

Products that would have fallen under the permit include Class 1 explosives, Class 2 flammable gasses, Class 2 poisonous gasses, and Class 6 poisonous materials.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) asked for a FMCSA administrative determination that federal hazardous material transportation law (49 USC 5101) and FMCSA regulations (49 CFR, part 397) preempt highway routing requirements under the Terrorism Prevention in Hazardous Materials Transportation Emergency Act of 2005. NTTC and the National Propane Gas Association followed suit by filing comments on the ATA request.

Since the time that ATA filed its application, the DC Act expired. However, the DC Council since introduced and enacted a series of acts with substantively identical language.

To see the FMCSA ruling, click here.

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