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Opinion: Proposed rules could change markings on dangerous goods

Posted: May 7, 2019 by Jaclyne Reive

Transport Canada has proposed a series of amendments to existing Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR), as it looks to align with the 20th edition of the United Nations Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

The end results will likely affect classification information, shipping names, and other special provisions, and better align with U.S. regulations when it comes to the safety marks on dangerous goods.

Written comments are required on or before May 27. Those who move such freight would be well served to review the proposed changes in detail, before they are finalized.

Descriptive shipping names

To align more closely with U.N. recommendations and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR Title 49), for example, Transport Canada wants to add “molten”, “stabilized”, and “temperature-controlled” to the list of words that can be used after the name of shipped goods. This is meant to readily communicate important characteristics.

Any information that’s not specifically listed in the TDGR to describe the goods would actually be banned from shipping documents.

Transport Canada also wants to add orientation arrows on containers of liquid dangerous goods, both in the name of safety and harmonizing with international standards.

Shipments between Canada and the U.S.

It’s not the only way that harmonized rules could make a difference. Consider the different rules that can apply to cross-border shipments, depending on where they originate.

The U.S. allows shipments to move to and from Canada under Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations as they apply to classifications, markings, placarding, labels, and documents.

But shipments that originate in Canada can’t be transported – or reshipped — to the U.S. if they happen to meet the 49 CFR rules rather than the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations. In contrast, 49 CFR can apply to shipments coming into Canada from the U.S.

If a shipment originates in the U.S. and is transported to Canada using 49 CFR markings and placards that are rejected on this side of the border, any carrier or consignee that wants to ship such goods back across the border would have to change the markings and placards to comply with Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations. They wouldn’t be able to return to the border with the 49 CFR markings and placards that were originally displayed.

Transport Canada wants to simplify this situation by allowing shipments that originate in Canada, or those being re-shipped in the U.S., to move under the 49 CFR requirements.

There is also a proposal to allow U.S. placards to be displayed when dangerous goods are shipped by road or rail from the U.S. and past the first destination in Canada. Under today’s rules, two sets of placards are needed if a load will continue to another destination in Canada.

Non-odorized LPG

Another proposal looking to align with 49 CFR would require non-odorized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to be carried in cylinders, portable tanks, highway tanks, or tank cards that are marked with the words “non-odourized”, “not odourized”, “non-odorized”, “not odorized” or “sans odorisant”. Today, only the shipping documents have to identify the non-odorized LPG.

The words could also be added to the containers themselves, reducing the need to add or remove the mark.

Empty containers

The proposed changes could even change the markings on empty containers.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations currently won’t allow the safety marks for dangerous goods to be displayed on an empty means of containment. But 49 CFR will allow such markings as long as they are covered, or if the means of containment are transported inside a closed vehicle.

This has led Transport Canada to consider whether it should allow the markings to be displayed as long as they meet the same 49 CFR conditions, or whether it should stick to the status quo.

One way or another, we can expect some changes to be made.

– Jaclyne Reive is a lawyer in Miller Thomson’s Trade, Transport and Logistics Group. She can be reached at jreive@millerthomson.com. This article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a solicitor-client relationship.

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