Associations ask PHMSA to change labeling requirements for fuel tankers

Nov. 24, 2015

The American Trucking Associations, along with National Tank Truck Carriers and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, have petitioned the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)to change their regulations regarding the labeling of cargo tank trucks transporting petroleum products. 

For many years, PHMSA allowed tanks to be labeled with the UN number for any petroleum-based product, so long as the label was for a product with a flash point as low as or lower than the petroleum products actually in transportation. PHMSA allowed this because the emergency response for all the petroleum-based products was the same. 

In June 2015, PHMSA issued an interpretation letter that restricted carriers to using labels for the petroleum-based product with the lowest flash point that was actually present on the vehicle. This created challenges for many carriers, especially those that transport diesel and unleaded gasoline.

ATA, NTTC, and PMAA have petitioned PHMSA to return to its previous practice. PHMSA’s June 2015 interpretation is based upon the assumption that petroleum-based products that are blended with ethanol have a different emergency response protocol than traditional petroleum-based products. 

While this is true, the emergency response protocols for petroleum-ethanol blends are also effective against traditional petroleum-based products alone, according to the three associations. Consequently, emergency responders have adapted to treat all petroleum-based incident emergency responses as if they were petroleum-ethanol blends. Therefore, the emergency response for all the products is the same, restoring the rationale for the exception.

Consequently, ATA, NTTC, and PMAA have petitioned to officially change the rules. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which represents roadside enforcement officials, has also submitted a petition asking for the same relief.