On October 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued special permit 16320 (DOT-SP-16320) Third Revision, to the Digital Wave Corporation. DOT-SP-16320, which expired on March 31, 2019, authorized the extension of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) 15-year service life for certain carbon-fiber reinforced aluminum-lined cylinders (DOT-CFFC) in 5-year increments, up to 15 additional years, for those cylinders that pass modal acoustic emissions (MAE) requalification testing. PHMSA reviewed and denied Digital Wave’s request for renewal of DOT-SP-16320 on April 10, 2019.
PHMSA’s special permits can waive requirements of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR parts 171-180) and the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law (49 U.S.C. 5101 et. seq.). DOT-SP-16320 waived requirements of 49 CFR 180.205(g) to allow for an alternative CFFC requalification and service life extension testing method.
However, PHMSA’s waiver authority and DOT-SP-16320 did not waive National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator approval requirements in 42 CFR part 84 or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respiratory protection requirements in 29 CFR § 1910.134.
Respirator users and purchasers should consult the February 2019 revised NIOSH Respiratory Protective Device Information Notice; “Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) user information regarding compressed breathing gas containers (cylinders), NIOSH approval holder user instructions, and Department of Transportation (DOT) permit and marking.” The February revision supersedes the original August 2018 notice and includes the following: “Without NIOSH review and approval of [OEM] modified documentation, the use of MAE requalification testing to extend the service life of SCBAs that have reached the end of the service life indicated in the [original] documentation provided by the SCBA manufacturer is not compliant with NIOSH approval for those devices.”