In an effort to improve hazardous material transportation methods, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is looking for insight regarding innovative research and advancement techniques.
Because new standards on transportation for things like aerosols and explosives (in small quantities) as well as for non-bulk and bulk packaging are highly needed, the Administration is specifically requesting new ideas on the research of safer shipment methods. Additionally, the agency is calling for further research into dissolved gases in liquids and their hazards, along with the regulation of particular quantities and types of hazardous materials that comprise these kinds of shipments.
“PHMSA is soliciting research ideas from the public for hazardous materials transportation safety,” announced the agency in a recent tweet. “All submissions should relate to one of the five research topics…the best proposals may be awarded federal funding.”
PHMSA will award this funding through “Broad Agency Announcement,” grants that will range anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million for this research. “White papers” consisting of this new testing and data analysis must be sent to PHMSA by the end of the day on August 24th, according to the agency’s announcement.
PHMSA works to create regulatory standards for the handling, packaging, and even classifying of hazardous material shipments and their transportation throughout the country; these shipments make up more than 1 million of the United States’ daily total shipments. Now, the agency is cracking down on reducing the number of potential risks brought about by this kind of transportation by making a major effort in boosting their research and technical contracts.
PHMSA has been searching for innovative classification and research projects for many years, and has recently been looking into projects regarding bulk hazardous material liquid transportation spill incidents as well as biologically-derived fuel transportation classification and standards.
Now, the agency’s top five research subjects include deregulation, explosives, aerosols, gases, and bulk and non-bulk packaging.
For deregulation, the agency explained that current data depicts some non-bulk quantities of hazardous materials making up most transport-related incidents, although the transportation of these materials doesn’t often account for any transportation interruptions or injuries. Therefore, PHMSA infers that non-bulk hazardous materials in small quantities may be presently over-regulated, and will make an effort to ascertain whether or not there are any ways to relax hazardous material transportation regulations in regards to non-bulk quantities while maintaining overall safety standards.
For explosives, current Class 1 material transportation calls for classification approval by the Department of Transportation, and PHMSA believes there may be ways to test some explosive mixtures that could be classified outside of Class 1. Therefore, the industry could see flexibility in regulation and time constraints regarding these materials.
Because aerosols are comprised of a variety of substances such as foams, powders, liquids, gases, or pastes and are still dispensed as gases or liquids, the agency is calling for research into the potential risks that could come with certain kinds of aerosols and their flammability. Additionally, the agency would find it ideal if someone may be able to properly conduct testing and analysis of aerosol flammability in certain measurements, rather than just testing which aerosols are indeed flammable.
Gases, of course, pose many risks of their own, and there are currently no criteria for determining what amount of dissolved gas in liquid can specify the material as being a distinct gas. Additionally, there are a variety of hazards that come with certain combinations of gases and liquids, like when both substances are flammable, or one is flammable and one is non-flammable. Because of this, PHMSA is looking for someone to research these criteria and find what may need to be regulated in specific manners.
Finally, with bulk and non-bulk packaging, the agency believes there needs to be a highly-researched definition, classification, performance standard, service life standard, and testing criteria in regards to how non-bulk packages are regulated. To research this, PHMSA believes researchers should analyze standards for improving criteria in certain non-bulk packages, such as cylinders.