Cargo tank operators carrying combustible liquids are not required to be in close attendance while unloading, according to new rules from the Department of Transportation’s Research and Special Programs Administration.

As part of numerous clarifications and amendments, most of which dealt with packaging and labeling, RSPA has added a paragraph to Section 177.837 of the hazardous materials transportation regulations. It says that the cargo tanker operator must monitor the unloading operation from a distance of up to 150 feet from the cargo tank and 25 feet from the delivery hose. The operator must observe the cargo tank and the receiving tank at least once every five minutes during unloading operations that take more than five minutes to complete.
The American Trucking Associations and the Hazardous Materials Advisory Council had opposed the change, arguing that it could diminish hazmat safety. ATA recommended a limited exception for the delivery of home heating fuels similar to the current exception for deliveries of liquefied petroleum gas and anhydrous ammonia. RSPA agreed that combustible liquid should not be excepted completely from attendance requirements during loading and unloading, but said the relatively low risk presented by combustible liquid in transportation supports a more flexible attendance regulations than is currently required.
ATA did win a request for the use of white square-on-point configurations for display of identification number markings, regardless of whether a placard is rquired for that material. The organization argued that current restrictions are unnecessary and RSPA agreed.
The amendments are effective October 1, 2000 and can be found in the August 18 Federal Register at