PHMSA’s process for approving hazmat transport raises safety concerns

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A House subcommittee today, Sept. 10, heard testimony regarding safety concerns involved in the process used by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for granting special permits and approvals for transporting hazardous materials.

Calvin Scovel III, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure regarding PHMSA’s Special Permits and Approvals Program. To read Scovel’s testimony, click here.

Scovel highlighted concerns with how PHMSA authorizes transport of hazardous materials under these regulatory exemptions across three areas:

  • PHMSA grants special permits and approvals without assessing applicants’ prior incidents and enforcement violations or coordinating with other affected operating administrations;
  • PHMSA’s risk-based oversight criteria do not target holders of special permits and approvals for compliance reviews; and
  • PHMSA has not addressed longstanding safety issues raised by the OIG, Federal Aviation Authority and National Transportation Safety Board.
  • PHMSA recently developed an action plan to address these and other issues in response to the OIG’s July management advisory and departmental direction.