ATA chairman testifies before House subcommittee on hazmat issues

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American Trucking Associations Chairman Barbara Windsor, president and chief executive officer of Hahn Transportation, testified Tuesday, April 12, before the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

The hearing, entitled “Reducing Regulatory Burdens and Ensuring Safe Transportation of Hazardous Materials,” was part of the subcommittee’s efforts to craft new hazardous materials authorization legislation.

Windsor said that changes are needed to the regulations governing hazmat shipments to improve efficiency and relieve unnecessary regulatory burdens. “The safety and security record for hazmat transportation by truck is impressive,” she said. “Serious incidents have decreased by 30 percent over the past decade, and the annual number of highway fatalities involving hazardous materials has declined from 16 to 4.”

However, despite these gains, Windsor put forward several recommendations to “further improve the safe, secure and efficient transportation of hazmat” that the government should enact. Those recommendations include:
• Ensuring equitable enforcement of hazmat regulations. The government should make sure that both shippers and carriers are held responsible for the violations they cause;
• Reform of incident reporting requirements. ATA supports the requirement for a single written incident report but has concerns with the current multitude of local telephonic reporting requirements, which can be confusing for drivers. Those local requirements should be harmonized to allow for a simple call to 9-1-1 to report hazmat incidents; and
• Abandoning the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s proposal to restrict the transportation of flammable liquids in the pipes used to load and unload gasoline and other flammable products. As an alternative, ATA proposes Congress direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue first before the government moves forward on a rulemaking.