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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

DOT’s Proposed Hazardous Materials Harmonization Rule Will Help Move COVID-19 Supplies More Efficiently While Aims to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Providing Cost Savings 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

PHMSA 04-21 
Contact:  PHMSA Public Affairs 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced its issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) containing proposed amendments to the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) that will streamline the domestic transport of hazardous materials, such as COVID-19 medical supplies.   
This proposed rule will help ensure the safe and efficient transport of vaccines and other medical materials and aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by permitting more efficient packaging of hazardous materials, and thereby transporting additional goods in fewer trips. 
“As communities continue to battle COVID-19, this rule would make it easier to ship and receive medical supplies,” said PHMSA Acting Administrator Tristan Brown. “The rule also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burdens for small businesses.” 
The proposed rule: 

  • Identifies specific areas within the HMR in which harmonization with recently updated international requirements will enhance safety and provide a cost savings to hazardous materials transporters. 
  • Would update references to consensus standards for the manufacture, use, and requalification of pressure vessels, used to transport a large array of gases, such as those used in COVID-19 and other medical treatments. 
  • Would require hazardous materials transporters to specify whether shipments contain damaged or defective lithium batteries. 
  • Would allow the use of small receptacles for small gas or fuel cell cartridges for recycling or disposal. 
  • Would update packaging construction provisions that will help reduce delays and interruptions of hazardous materials during transportation. 

The NPRM is currently available in the Federal Register. Stakeholders and the public can submit comments on the proposed rule for up to 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 2.8-million-mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1.2 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air.  Please visit for more information. 
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