Safety & Compliance

RSPA Pre-Empts Tennessee Hazmat Fee

October 11, 1999

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The Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration has ruled that federal hazardous material transportation law pre-empts Tennessee's $650 remedial action fee.

Tennessee requires a permit to pick up and deliver hazardous waste within the state. In addition to application and renewal fees, the carrier must pay a $650 annual fee, which is deposited into a hazardous waste remedial account to be used for hazmat clean-up and monitoring.
The 1975 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act gives DOT and RSPA authority to prescribe hazardous materials regulations for intrastate, interstate and foreign commerce. RSPA noted that federal preemption was necessary in order to avoid a multiplicity of state and local regulations. Under current law a state can impose a fee related to transporting hazardous materials only if the fee is "fair and used for a purpose relating to transporting hazardous material." Acting on a petition by the Association of Waste Hazardous Materials Transporters, RSPA found neither to be the case regarding the Tennessee fee.
The agency also pre-empted a Tennessee requirement that carriers submit a written report on any hazardous waste discharge that occurs within its borders, noting that the mandated state report was not substantively the same as federal reporting requirements.
The notice and discussions appeared in the October 6 Federal Register, available on the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.

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