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OHMS has many programs that affect the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials.  These programs include Special Permits, Rulemaking, Outreach and Training and Enforcement.  The Engineering and Research Division provides the scientific, engineering and research to support the continued development of all of these program areas.  The Division boast specific knowledge base to ensure the content effectively and efficiently address the mission, vision and goals for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Regulatory Development

The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety develops and recommends regulatory changes governing the multimodal transportation of hazardous materials. It develops long and short-term plans, schedules for hazardous materials regulatory actions and carries them out in accordance with the plan. When proposed regulations apply exclusively to a single mode, the HMS Office develops and coordinates those regulations with the appropriate DOT Operating Administration before issuance.

The Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety responds to requests for interpretation of regulations, inconsistency rulings, and non-preemption determinations. The Administrator also conducts public hearings in conjunction with regulatory changes, issues special permits where appropriate (upon concurring with concerned DOT Operating Administrations), and makes final determinations regarding registration approvals and reconsideration petitions.

It is the duty of this Office to develop regulatory policy options and initiatives based on social, economic, technological, environmental, and safety impacts of regulatory, legislative, or program activities involving hazardous materials transportation. This Office participates fully in policy determinations and implements guidance for approved policies within the purview of its delegated authority.

Information Systems, Training, and Technological Capabilities

The HMS Office maintains the technical capability to provide daily support for HMS activities, specifically regarding all classes of hazmat and their containment/packaging, as well as applied research and engineering programs. It also conducts planning for hazardous materials advanced research and development programs.

This Office maintains incident and operations data systems from multimodal carriers (packaged materials only) and from manufacturers of hazmat containers. A public docket system is also maintained for all regulatory actions requiring formal docket procedures. Appropriate regulatory documents are submitted to the Federal Register.
The HMS Office develops hazardous materials safety training policies and programs. Training courses and other instructional materials are distributed for Government and industry personnel. The Emergency Response Guidebook is also developed and distributed through this Office.
Inter-agency Coordination Efforts

The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety serves as the DOT representative on the National Response Team. It maintains liaison with other Federal departments and agencies, State and local governments, and non-government entities who are responsibile for setting standards regarding the safe transportation of hazardous materials. It plays the same role with international bodies to assure that the United States' position can be developed in a timely and informed manner. In this capacity, the Office conducts public meetings and briefings and distributes literature from other Nations to governmental entities and interested citizens regarding U.S. participation in the activities of international hazmat standards-setting bodies.

The Office represents the United States (before international standards-setting bodies) on technical issues of hazmat transportation. This is done with the approval of, or in support of, the department of State and in cooperation with other Operating Administrations. Technical assistance is provided to State and local governments in their efforts to enhance public safety and to avoid or resolve potential conflicts between different levels of Government.

The Office also serves as a focal point for hazardous materials studies and reports by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It prepares responses to NTSB on hazmat transportation matters in coordination with other offices.

With regards to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, Section 137, this Office determines the willingness and ability of the private sector to provide the required transportation services. It plans and performs enforcement inspections in coordination with inspection activities of other Operating Administrations.

The Office recommends enforcement actions to PHMSA's Office of the Chief Counsel.

Finally, (in terms of cooperative functions) this Office supports the National Response Center (NRC) operation, in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard. It also serves as the DOT liaison with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on hazmat transportation issues.

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