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Hazardous Materials Safety: Public Meeting Related to Customer Service and Regulatory Review

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Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), DOT.


Notice of public meeting.


RSPA will hold a public meeting to seek information from the public on improving safety, reducing costs (especially to small businesses), and increasing customer service through RSPA's management of the national hazardous materials transportation safety program. This meeting is being held in conjunction with a Hazardous Materials Multimodal Training Seminar sponsored by RSPA on March 27 and 28, 2001.


The public meeting will be held at the Sheraton North Charleston Start Printed Page 13627Hotel, 4770 Goer Drive, North Charleston, South Carolina 29406 (843-747-1900). For information on facilities or services for individuals with disabilities or to request special assistance at the meetings, contact Eileen Edmonson at the address or telephone number listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT as soon as possible.


The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 28, 2001, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.; however, the meeting may end prior to 4:00 p.m., depending on public interest.

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Eileen Edmonson, Office of Hazardous Materials Standards, RSPA, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Telephone 202-366-8553.

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Focus on Issues of Interest to Affected Parties

RSPA (we) is interested in soliciting comments on the kind and quality of services our customers want and their level of satisfaction with the services we currently provide to promote understanding of and compliance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). These services include the following:

(1) Hazardous Materials Information Center (HMIC). A staff of three persons is available from Monday to Friday (except federal holidays) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST to address telephone inquiries from shippers, carriers, packaging manufacturers, and other persons concerning requirements in the HMR for the safe transportation of hazardous materials. In 2000, the HMIC handled more than 33,000 calls. The toll-free number is 1-800-HMR-4922.

(2) Internet access. Our site on the worldwide web ( provides information concerning hazardous materials rulemakings, exemptions, letters of clarification, international activities, incident data, the 2000 Emergency Response Guidebook, and much more.

(3) Fax on demand. For persons who do not have access to the Internet, we operate an automated fax-back system that allows callers access to more than 600 pages of informational materials, including letters of clarification and recently published rulemakings, through their own fax machines. A facsimile copy of the catalog of available documents may be obtained by accessing the fax-on-demand feature through our HMIC number 1-800-HMR-4922.

(4) Training. To promote compliance with the HMR, we distribute brochures, charts, publications, training materials, videotapes, and other safety-related information to hazmat employers and hazmat employees in the private and government sectors and to the general public. We also offer hazardous materials training to federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, industry, and emergency response personnel. In addition, we provide personal computer-based self-study programs through a CD-ROM modular training series.

(5) Government-Industry partnerships. To the extent resources permit, we participate in meetings, conferences, training workshops, and the like, sponsored by the public sector, industry, and international organizations having an interest in the safe transportation of hazardous materials.

Regulations and Administrative Procedures

On January 12, 2001, we published a notice of regulatory review (Docket No. RSPA-01-8587, 66 FR 2870) requesting comments on the economic impact of the HMR on small entities. This year we are analyzing rules in 49 CFR parts 174, Carriage by Rail, and 177, Carriage by Public Highway. We are inviting participants to take this opportunity to suggest whether or not we, in an effort to lessen the impact on small entities, should revise or revoke specific rules.

We are also interested in receiving comments on the quality of our processing of written requests for information, applications for exemptions and approvals, registration statements, and other administrative actions. Participants are encouraged to provide suggestions on how we can improve our performance in processing these administrative actions.

We welcome all comments on ways to improve the understanding of and compliance with the HMR, including removal of obsolete requirements, revisions to conflicting or confusing requirements, and the use of plain language. We will also address inquiries concerning new or proposed requirements, including recently published actions concerning:

  • Proposed revisions for infectious substances and genetically modified materials to: (1) Adopt new classification criteria for infectious substances based on defining criteria developed by the World Health Organization and consistent with international transportation standards; (2) eliminate the current exception for diagnostic specimens and impose new packaging and hazardous communication requirements; (3) limit the current exception for biological products to biological products licensed for use by the Food and Drug Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture; (4) adopt new requirements for the transportation of genetically modified micro-organisms consistent with international requirements; and (5) provide new bulk packaging options for the transportation of regulated medical waste, based on current exemption provisions (Docket No. RSPA-98-3971, 66 FR 6942, January 22, 2001).
  • Harmonization of the HMR requirements with standards published in the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, and the International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Docket No. RSPA-2000-7702; 65 FR 63294, October 23, 2000).

Representatives from the United States Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will participate with RSPA in this public meeting to address mode-specific issues.

Conduct of the Meeting

This is an informal meeting intended to foster a dialogue between agency personnel and persons affected by the hazardous materials transportation safety program. The presiding official may find it necessary to limit the time available to each person to ensure that all participants have an opportunity to speak. Conversely, this meeting may conclude earlier than 4 p.m. if all persons wishing to participate have been heard. While there will be no transcript of the meeting, RSPA will prepare a written summary and post it in this notice's docket (RSPA-01-8587). Persons interested in participating in this public meeting need not be registered for the Hazardous Materials Multimodal Training Seminar.

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Robert A. McGuire,

Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety, Research and Special Programs Administration.

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[FR Doc. 01-5297 Filed 3-5-01; 8:45 am]