Two Steps Closer to Harmonization

Written on: January 30, 2013 by SprayTM

Two significant milestones toward global harmonization were reached recently. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) has eliminated the Consumer Commodity, ORM-D-AIR marking as of Jan.1, 2013, and Transport Canada (TC) has published its proposed amendments to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) in the Dec.1, 2012 issue of Canada Gazette.

Elimination of the ORM-D-AIR Marking

The first milestone is an important step toward the international harmonization of limited quantities with respect to marking and labeling. The elimination of ORM-D-AIR marking was first contemplated in the 1980s, but it was not until DOT’s Final Rule HM-215K, published on Jan. 19, 2011, that the deadline for the use of the marking was finally known. DOT Final Rulemaking HM-215K also includes a deadline for the use of the Consumer Commodity, ORM-D marking on Jan.1, 2014.

Although the U.S. DOT’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has long recognized the need to authorize exceptions for the transport of certain types of hazardous materials, described as limited quantities, or consumer commodities, there was considerable resistant from the industry, when the elimination of this classification was first proposed. However, in recent years, there has been considerable domestic interest in pursuing further harmonization with international standards. Many realized that the use of the ORM-D marking was more of an obstruction to international commerce because the U.S. was the only country that used this classification. Although dual marking (ORM-D and Limited Quantity) was authorized, it is confusing to those that may re-offer these goods overseas.

By eliminating the ORM-D classification, PHMSA believes that transportation safety and efficiencies can be increased, ultimately resulting in savings to the shipper. U.S. DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations were also changed with respect to limited quantities to vacate the need for shipping papers when transported by domestic highway and rail.

Essentially, there is no difference between the ORM-D marking and the new Limited Quantity marking, except that the classic ORM-D marking will be replaced with the hollow diamond with black points. It is important to note; however, that limited quantities of dangerous goods intended for transport by air must be marked and labeled with the hazard warning label, proper shipping name, identification number and the new limited quantity “Y” marking.

Proposed Amendments to the TDGR

The second significant development this past month is that Transport Canada (the DOT equivalent in Canada) has proposed amendments to the Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) for Dangerous Goods Safety Marks.

Notable proposed amendments to the TDG Regulations, would include the use of the “overpack” mark, relax some of the placarding requirements for certain classes of dangerous goods in quantities of 500kg or less, and introduce the new limited quantity and marine pollutant markings which are consistent with the UN Recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UN Recommendations) and the U.S. DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), subchapter C.

These would facilitate movements of dangerous goods transported under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions and 49 CFR. The proposed rules provide a transitional period to allow the “old” Limited Quantity (hollow diamond with UN number) marking to be used until May 1, 2015, so that shippers can liquidate their pre-marked stocks.

In its announcement, Transport Canada stated that “…throughout informal consultation, commenters have expressed a desire to harmonize the definition and the [labeling] and marking requirements with international recommendations and U.S. regulations. The Directorate agrees with the commenters and proposes to harmonize the overpack definition and marking requirements with international recommendations and with the requirements of 49 CFR. The industry would greatly benefit from this proposed harmonization, which is consistent with one of the objectives of the Regulatory Cooperation Council, namely to develop smarter and more effective approaches to regulation to enhance economic competitiveness.”

Currently, limited quantity shipments of hazardous materials (e.g., aerosols) shipped to and within Canada may be marked with the new limited quantity marking because there provisions in the TDGR which allow the use of these markings on packages that originate in the U.S. or which conform to the most current versions of the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code or 49 CFR (see TDGR, part 1, section 1.9, reproduced below).

1.9  Use of the Most Recent Version of the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code or 49 CFR

A person who is required or permitted by these Regulations to comply with all or a portion of the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code or 49 CFR may comply with the most recent version of those documents rather than the version named in the table to paragraph 1.3(2)(f) and in the definitions in section 1.4.

A copy of the proposed amendments is available for download at Transport Canada’s website, or by pasting the following URL into your web browser’s address bar: