DOT limited in its ability to issue guidelines for explosives haulers, report finds

Updated Aug 2, 2016

Lack of guidance limits the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s oversight of labs that recommend classifications for new explosives, according to a new federal report.

Additionally, stakeholders gave mixed views on the Department of Transportation agency’s oversight, the Government Accountability Office reported July 28. The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act calls for the PHMSA’s ‘s oversight of these labs be evaluated.

Manufacturers of new explosives must have an approved test lab examine new products, then submit an application to PHMSA with the test lab’s recommended classification. PHMSA’s oversight includes approving and monitoring test labs, along with reviewing applications and classification recommendations.

The agency concurred with GAO recommendations, which included that:

  • The PHMSA promote test lab consistency by using a systematic approach to developing guidance.
  • It improve oversight of classifications by using a systematic approach for improving test labs.
  • The agency develop a written plan describing information requirements for its new data system.

In 2012, more than 98 percent of explosives were transported by truck. The American Trucking Associations and other trucking stakeholders generally were supportive of the PHMSA’s oversight. Still, some manufacturers saw the PHMSA’s review process as opaque, time consuming and of questionable value.

The full report is available at this link.