The American Coatings Association has a message for the U.S. Department of Transportation: Small paint spills should not be grounds for federal hazmat reporting.
The red tape surrounding hazardous materials incidents is out of control, ACA contends. The paint and coating manufacturers’ group says the incidents that trigger federal reporting rules are excessive, resulting in an avalanche of paperwork that frequently ends up being inaccurate, incomplete and pointless.
That is the thrust of the feedback that ACA delivered to DOT as it undergoes its mandated internal regulatory review. DOT had requested comments by April 1 on both its current regulatory review process and on what rules should be re-examined. ACA also testified at a public hearing March 14 on DOT regulatory burdens.
Excessive and Inadequate
ACA focused its comments on the “particularly onerous reporting requirements” by DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)—specifically, on the detailed incident reporting required under Section 171.16 of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and on Hazardous Materials Incident Report Form DOT F 5800.1.
|Highway carriers reported $62.8 million in damages in 2010 from hazmat incidents. Coating makers say too many of those were minor paint spills.|
ACA contends that the current system manages to be both excessive and inadequate.
“PHMSA has been collecting incident data on paint and paint-related materials, PG II, in packagings of five gallons or less for over five years now,” ACA said in a statement. “During this time, there has not been any official report or activity to indicate that the incident data for this commodity has generated a need for any regulatory activity.”
Carriers reported $62.8 million in damages in 2010 from hazmat incidents on highways—by far, the largest category of hazmat transportation, according to PHMSA. PHMSA records do not break out paint spills as a category.
Nuisance, Yes; Hazard, No
ACA called small paint spills “a nuisance” that requires “a vigorous clean-up response” but not “the special skills of a hazmat emergency response team.” The association notes that homeowners buy, transport, store and clean up regulated paint products UN 1263, Paint, 3 II all the time and says spills of less than five gallons “should not pose an environmental, health or security risk.”
Paint and paint-related materials are low-hazard, low-risk materials, especially in small quantities, ACA argues. However, because these spills currently trigger filing of a 5800 report, the number of reports is needlessly high, ACA says. The rule actually ends up backfiring, ACA says, because the excessive reporting demands frequently result in slipshod paperwork.
“The quality of data … tends to be very specious, and, therefore, it is unreliable and inconsistent,” ACA contends.
After reviewing thousands of 5800 reports, ACA says “a high percentage” show “conflicting information; many reports are filed for non-regulated, non-hazardous materials; many reports are incomplete; many reports indicate that there are conflicting causes of failure; many reports indicate a cause of failure that is not consistent with actual pictures of the damaged containers; and many reports contain only clean-up and disposal information in Part VI.”
“Consequently, the data collected from these 5800 reports is not reliable, consistent, useful, or meaningful.”
The upshot, ACA says, is a “significant paperwork burden” on the industry that “does not enhance the safety of hazmat transport.”
New Rules Sought
“ACA firmly believes that the outdated regulation can easily be simplified and clarified to produce meaningful and reliable data,” the group says.
It called for:
• New rulemaking that would exempt incidents involving paint and paint-related materials in PG II in packagings of five gallons or less from Form 5800.1 reporting;
• Simplified regulatory language; and
• A study with paint and coatings shippers and carriers “to identify necessary information and eliminate the collection and reporting of non-essential data.”
“[B]ecause small packages of a very low-hazard, low-risk material like paint and paint-related materials present a nominal risk in the transportation chain, ACA believes that incident data collection by the government is not warranted,” the group said.