DOT Withdraws Tanker Wetlines Proposition
In lieu of the new provision in the Highway Act, the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration has taken back their notice, of proposing a rulemaking, regarding hazmat regulations. These rules would have proceeded to amend the transportation of flammable and volatile liquid material in unprotected external product piping, also known as the Wetlines, on the DOT-specified tanker trucks.
The withdrawal notification was printed in the Federal Register on December 30, 2015. According to the notice, PHMSA claims that although it is withdrawing its request, the agency will continue to consider safety regulations to ensure that the flammable and volatile liquids are transported in safe conditions in the cargo tank motor carriers.
Moreover, the organization also claimed that it will dedicate its time to analyze and study the current incident data and reports, which will help them improve the safety conditions in the future. The collection of future incident data will help the agency make informed decisions and take further steps to address this issue, if the need arises.
However, this is not a new development. The proposal moved forward by PHMSA, dates back to 2011. The struggle between Congress and Hazmat material carrier companies has been going on for quite some time. A representative of the American Trucking Association urged Congress to force PHMSA to take back its proposal in early 2014. William Downey, executive vice president for Kenan Advantage Group, also asked the representatives that the specifications, which allow the drivers to obtain a commercial driving license with a hazmat endorsements, should be improved for safety reasons.
Moreover, ATA also stated that the Highway Law should make a clear distinction between hazmat shippers and carriers and aid the process by permitting the Alliance for Uniform Hazmat Transportation Procedures.
If the proposal would have been accepted, it would have decreased or limited the amount of flammable liquid that can be transported through the unprotected loading and unloading Wetlines of the tankers. However, carrier companies argued that the cost of pump installation, for emptying the Wetlines, would far outweigh the advantages, and there was an additional risk and hazard of explosion from welding the tank trailers to fit retrofit pumps onto them.
According to Gordon Delcambre, Jr. PHMSA public affairs specialist, the withdrawal of the notice was supervised by the Congress in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act highway bill, which was approved by the House and Senate, and then signed by President Obama earlier this month.
The notice stated, “Although PHMSA is withdrawing its rulemaking proposal, the agency will continue to consider methods to improve the safety of transporting flammable liquid by cargo tank motor vehicle. PHMSA will continue to analyze current incident data and improve the collection of future incident data to assist in making an informed decision on methods to address this issue further, if warranted.”
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