HAZARDOUS MATERIALS (INNOVATION FOR ELECTRONIC INFORMATION) / As authorized by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Centruy Act (MAP-21), the “[Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] PHMSA invites volunteers for a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of paperless hazard communications systems and comments on an information collection activity associated with the pilot program.” The innovation: “Paperless hazardous materials (e-HM) communications systems (e-systems)”. The challenge: All parties – but especially emergency response providers – have historically relied on physical signage and shipping papers when coming into contact with a hazmat incident.

“Paperless Hazard Communications Pilot Program”

“PHMSA invites volunteers for a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of paperless hazard communications systems and comments on an information collection activity associated with the pilot program. “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) authorizes PHMSA to conduct a pilot program to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of using paperless hazard communications systems. In accordance with MAP-21, in conducting the pilot projects, PHMSA may not waive the current shipping paper requirements. In addition, MAP-21 indicates that PHMSA must consult with organizations representing fire and other emergency responders, law enforcement, and regulated entities. Upon completion of the pilot projects, PHMSA must evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of paperless hazard communications systems and make a recommendation to Congress regarding regulatory changes that would permanently authorize the use of paperless hazard communications systems. The report is due to Congress by October 1, 2014. The intent of this notice is to: (1) Describe the current regulatory requirements for shipping papers; (2) describe authority granted under MAP-21; (3) explain the goal, scope, and intent of the pilot program; (4) seek volunteers to participate in the pilot projects and describe criteria for selecting pilot participants from the volunteers; and (5) seek comment on the request for information to be collected in conducting the pilot projects and in consulting with organizations representing fire and other emergency responders, law enforcement, and regulated entities. Information gathered will enable PHMSA to generate a report to Congress detailing: (1) The performance of each paperless hazard communications system tested during the pilot projects; (2) PHMSA’s assessment of the safety and security impacts on stakeholders; (3) the associated costs and benefits; and (4) PHMSA’s regulatory recommendation(s).”