IME Files Comments on Hazardous Materials Research Projects
IME filed comments on hazardous materials research project presented by PHMSA at the agency’s January 17, 2014 forum on its R&D initiatives. IME took exception with a proposed agency project to harden trucks carrying ammonium nitrate (AN) against fire tires. Of the hundreds of thousands of hazardous materials incident reports filed since PHMSA began to be collected in 1971, only four incidents involving fire are on record involving trucks carrying AN, and none of these involved a fatality or injury. Yet, this project appears to be a priority of the agency based on a review of recent statements by PHMSA. (See attached.) IME recommended that the $250,000 set aside for this project be reallocated to more promising initiatives. IME strongly supports projects to better clarify testing required to classify explosives. The United Nations is overseeing a review of all explosives classification tests. Support from the United States to accomplish this review would be welcome. Stakeholders at the R&D forum were under the impression that PHMSA was interested in new research initiatives. However, the forum and subsequent request for comments focused mainly of projects already in the PHMSA pipeline. IME supports the R&D program and is hopeful that there will be more transparency and accountability with new staff managing the program. This is particularly important given that PHMSA’s FY 2015 budget request nearly doubles the allocation for this program. IME looks forward to hearing what the next steps will be in the vetting process as projects move toward final selection.