The 2019/2020 regulatory biennium opened with a packed agenda for a one-week meeting of the UN experts, though few decisions were finalised
The UN Sub-committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) held its 55th session in Geneva this past 1 to 5 July. This was the first of four planned meetings to develop the changes to the UN Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods that will appear in the 22nd revised edition, due for publication in early 2021. Those changes will then be picked up by the modal, regional and national authorities for implementation beginning in 2023.
As is usually the case with the first session of the biennium, while there was a wide array of papers presented to the experts, few changes were agreed; rather, proposals have been sent back for further work or consideration.
The meeting was chaired by Duane Pfund (US) with Claude Pfauvadel (France) as vice-chair. It was attended by experts from 19 states, observers from Croatia, DR Congo, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey, and representatives of the EU, the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and 32 non-governmental organisations.
Yuwei Li, director of the Sustainable Transport Division, informed the Sub-committee that, following the (somewhat reluctant) retirement of Olivier Kervella, Romain Hubert had been chosen to take the role of Chief of the Road Safety Management and Dangerous Goods Section as from 1 June.
All matters relating to explosives were passed to the Working Group on Explosives (EWG), which met for four days under the chairmanship of Ed de Jong (Netherlands).
The Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) queried the criteria used in Test 6(d), which is often referred to as the ‘unconfined package test’ and is welcomed internationally as a means of assessing the effects of explosives while still in their package. The 6(d) test is used for some explosives of Division 1.4S but, SAAMI said, the test criteria do not align with the original intention and, on the basis of experience since the test was introduced, these could be improved. In particular, SAAMI noted, it in effect creates two sets of 1.4S explosives, based on the assignment of special provision 347, which was not the intent.
EWG agreed with the need for clarity as to what hazardous effects the 6(d) test is meant to identify and that the criteria should be reviewed and updated as necessary. It proposed to set up an informal correspondence group to examine the issues further; this group will be led by SAAMI and its conclusions will be considered by EWG prior to the submission of recommendations for action to the Sub-committee at a future session.
The Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME) proposed that ammonium nitrate emulsions, suspensions and gels that have been subjected to and passed the 8(e) test should not then be required to pass the 8(d) test. While there was general support for the idea within EWG, the US questioned some of the supporting evidence; IME will return with more detail at a subsequent session.
The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) proposed to insert a clarification to Table A6.2 in section 3.3(c) of Appendix 6 of the Manual of Tests and Criteria, which stipulates that the Class 1 acceptance procedure does not have to be applied when the exothermic decomposition energy is less than 500 J/g or when the onset of exothermic decomposition is 500˚C or more. This text was adopted in 2013 but, Cefic said, it missed an important piece of information, viz that the temperature limit is there to prevent the procedure being applied to a large number of organic materials that are not explosive but which will decompose slowly above 500˚C to release more than 500 J/g.
After thorough discussion, EWG agreed that there are problems that need to be addressed, though it felt that Cefic’s proposed revision did not solve them. Cefic said it would consider the comments made and would likely develop a revised paper for a future session.
SAAMI felt that there is an inconsistency between the wording used in the description of Test Series 4(b)(ii), the 12-metre drop test, which determines whether an explosive as packaged can withstand the free-fall impact “without producing any significant fire or explosion hazard”, and the wording of the test assessment in 18.104.22.168 of the Manual of Tests and Criteria, which omits the word “significant”. These should, SAAMI said, be aligned. While EWG agreed the problem with the wording, there was no consensus on the proposal and SAAMI said it would consider the matter further.
Sweden presented a status report on the ongoing work to revise Chapter 2.1 in the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The current classification system relies on the explosive being in a particular configuration, such as being packaged for transport but, the informal correspondence group has recognised that, in supply, use, manufacturing or processing configurations, the current GHS hazard communication system often understates the actual hazard.
The informal correspondence group has developed a potential new GHS classification system that recognises the differences between those explosives that have been assigned a division based on their transport configuration and those that have not. It does not expect that adoption of its proposals would lead to any changes in the classification for transport. The GHS Sub-committee has asked the group to complete its work by the end of the current biennium, i.e. by December 2020. EWG was invited to review some of the elements of the correspondence group’s decisions thus far and to make comments, which it did. The work will continue.
Cefic raised the issue of the temperature control of energetic substances, such as self-reactive substances and organic peroxides. Temperature control requirements are based on the self-accelerating decomposition temperature (SADT); however, Cefic said, in the case of samples (for instance, of new substances), the SADT may well not be available. How should the provisions be met? Cefic offered a solution based on calorimetric techniques. EWG supported the proposal in principle, finding it a simple solution to the problem, but felt that more supporting data and/or examples should be provided. Cefic will return with an amended proposal at a future session.
EWG discussed a SAAMI paper presented to the GHS Sub-committee on issues relating to the definition of explosives; it was unable to arrive at an agreement and felt that the work would be too complex for it to deal with, given the limited time available. Sweden will instead lead an informal correspondence group, with the aim of presenting recommendations at the next session. It was stressed that this work is not to be part of the broader review of Chapter 2.1 of GHS.
Another lengthy paper from SAAMI reviewed the purposes of assigning compatibility groups and the special status of group S; as a result of this review, it felt some work was needed to clarify that the assignment of compatibility groups N and S is based on testing and to clarify that test results consistent with a lower level of hazard are the basis for the differences allowed for transport of 1.4S with other explosives.
EWG agreed that 1.4S classifications are conservatively assigned and controlled during transport, resulting in 1.4S being safe. As such, a note to highlight the fact and to thereby encourage the facilitation of 1.4S shipments would be helpful. EWG asked the Sub-committee for guidance as to where such a note should be placed, but the Sub-committee felt this should not be seen as a regulatory statement. SAAMI will prepare a revised proposal.
SAAMI queried the value in requiring the net explosive mass (NEM) to be shown on the transport document for Division 1.4 explosives, as there are no limits or requirements linked to NEM for these substances. Opinions were divided but EWG offered some comments, which SAAMI will take into account in drafting a revised proposal.
Germany sought EWG’s help in classifying a new pyrotechnic article that had been presented to the Bundesamt für Materialforschung (BAM) for classification; the article in question, ‘Aquaflame’, is designed as a firelighter and is initiated by the application of water, which generates an exothermic reaction in sodium hydroxide. This points to assignment of compatibility group L. However, the article as packaged fits Division 1.4, but there is no UN entry for 1.4L. EWG offered several solutions, such as assignment to Division 1.3L or, if possible, 1.4S; assignment to compatibility group G was also mentioned. Germany will consider those suggestions and will likely come back with a new document on the topic.
LISTING, CLASSIFICATION AND PACKING
SP 274 Switzerland sought to clarify the scope of special provision 274 through an amendment to 22.214.171.124.1.2, which requires that, for dangerous goods described as ‘nos’ or in generic entries, not more than two constituents that most predominantly contribute to the hazard(s) of the mixture or article should be shown. The paper noted that there are cases in which, while the mixture itself may be flammable or present another hazard, the individual constituents are not dangerous goods as defined by the Model Regulations.
The Sub-committee confirmed that 126.96.36.199.1.2 does apply in cases where a mixture’s constituents are all non-hazardous and the proposal was not supported; some delegates noted that, even if the constituents themselves do not present a hazard in transport, it can be useful to know what is in the mixture. Switzerland may come back with a revised proposal.
Organic peroxides As ever, Cefic brought a paper with new organic peroxide formulations that have recently become commercially available, and which needed to be added to the list in 188.8.131.52.4 and portable tank instruction T23. Fortunately, on this occasion, there were only two names on the list and the Sub-committee approved their inclusion as proposed.
Polymerising substances Another paper from Cefic sought to exempt polymerising substances packed in small packages (less than 50 kh net weight) from classification in Division 4.1, under defined circumstances. Most of the experts were in favour of providing some degree of relief, on the basis of the maximum surface temperature, the heat of polymerisation, and packaging criteria. However, the proposal as drafted was not accepted and Cefic was invited to substantiate its proposal and provide more detail.
Section 184.108.40.206 Switzerland sought clarification of the scope of 220.127.116.11 in respect of non-metal intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) so as to enable their carriage for the disposal or recycling of their contents. At present, by dint of the time limits imposed in 18.104.22.168 on the use of non-metal IBCs, there is no way for them to be used after they reach five years old, whereas for metal IBCs 22.214.171.124 sets out conditions under which they may be carried after the date of the last periodic test or inspection. Switzerland believed this was an anomaly and proposed a revised text for 126.96.36.199.
While some delegations considered that the current provisions are clear and fit for purpose, others acknowledged that the text could be improved to address the issue raised by Switzerland, which will consider whether to submit a revised proposal in light of comments made.
Empty packagings Similarly, Switzerland proposed the introduction of a general rule to authorise the transport of empty packagings, including empty IBCs and large packagings, for disposal, recycling or recovery of their material, even when they are not in compliance with the provisions of the Model Regulations.
This did not meet with the approval of the Sub-committee, which felt that the issue ought to be dealt with on a regional level; Switzerland offered to submit a revised proposal to the RID/ADR/ADN Joint Meeting.
Commenting on the Swiss proposal in an informal document, the International Confederation of Container Reconditioners (ICCR) went further, saying that UN 3509 and related provisions should be removed from the Model Regulations, as it feels the issue is one that is specific to European road transport. Furthermore, the use of UN 3509 has crept into areas where it was not intended and ICCR felt that this could be rectified by an amendment to special provision 374. This received general support from the Sub-committee and ICCR will work up a formal proposal for a future session.
SP 363 Switzerland sought clarification of the exemption provided under special provision 363(j), which requires labelling and placarding for engines and machinery of UN 3528 and 3530 that contain more than 60 litres of liquid fuel, when their capacity exceeds 3,000 litres. However, what is to be done once the engines or machinery have been used and now contain less than 60 litres of fuel? It seems that labels and placards should then be removed. For such items subject to regular transport and use, this leads to the need to continually affix and remove labels and placards. The Swiss paper proposed adding a sentence to clarify that those labels and placards do not have to be removed if the volume of fuel in the engines or machinery drops below 60 litres.
Most experts agreed that the current text does not preclude the labelling and placarding of engines or machinery with less than 60 litres of liquid fuel and did not support the need for change. There could be a case for amending SP 363(l) and require that vehicles carrying such engines and machinery are accompanied by the appropriate transport document. However, the Sub-committee preferred not to amend the text of the Model Regulations and invited Switzerland to seek a solution at regional levels.
Spanish names Spain had completed its review of the often conflicting proper shipping names shown in the Spanish language versions of the Model Regulations, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, the ICAO Technical Instructions, and ADR and RID. The Sub-committee invited the Secretariat to note the changes and incorporate them in the next revised edition of the Model Regulations. The changes have no impact on the English or French versions.
Transformers Germany reported that, for operational reasons, transformers are pressurised with nitrogen or with synthetic or dried air, or a mixture of these gases. As transformers are not gas-tight, a small volume of gas is constantly supplied through a pressure regulator from a gas cylinder connected to the transformer. Carriage by sea is normally done under UN 3363, Class 9 but the latest edition of the IMDG Code will require their carriage under UN 3538, Division 2.2. Further, packing instruction P006, which applies to UN 3538, allows transformers to be transported unpackaged and does not explicitly require them to be gas-tight; however, P006(3)(d), which applies to the connected gas cylinder, requires that valves shall remain closed during transport. Germany said that the gases involved are not flammable, toxic, corrosive or oxidising and, unless they collect in a confined space, their hazard is low. However, as things stand, competent authorities will face a large number of requests for approval to allow the carriage of transformers in future; it sought the addition of a new special provision to provide a general exemption.
The Sub-committee saw the reasoning behind Germany’s proposal but felt that some issues needed further work in the area of transport conditions and communication of the asphyxiant hazard. Germany will prepare a revised proposal for the next session.
Cobalt dihydroxide A joint paper from the Responsible Packaging Management Association of Southern Africa (RPMASA), Cefic and the International Confederation of Plastics Packaging Manufacturers (ICPP) noted that cobalt dihydroxide in various forms has been safely shipped around the world for several decades; more than 200,000 tonnes are transported annually under UN 3077, packing group III in flexible IBCs.
Although there have been no recoded or known health issues arising from the transport of cobalt dihydroxide, recent testing for authorisation under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation has indicated a classification of acute toxicity by inhalation, Category 1, which would equate to a classification for transport of Division 6.1, packing group I. This would present a serious challenge for shippers, not least as flexible IBCs are not currently allowed for PG I substances.
The joint paper offered a number of observations. Firstly, the use of flexible IBCs for this product is preferable to the use of smaller packagings or bags, as these alternatives would potentially expose workers to the inhalation hazard. Secondly, recent tests on a new 13H3 flexible IBC, carried out in Belgium have shown that they meet the additional test requirements for PG I. Further, if this classification, which stems from GHS, were to be extended to other fine powders, it would raise a barrier to the use of flexible IBCs for a wide range of minerals and other products in large volumes, thus impeding the movement of goods which have no other high-consequence hazards.
The Sub-committee welcomed the paper, recommending that the appropriate classification of the substance in its various forms should be the first step, following which the transport conditions and packaging requirements could be defined. RPMASA led informal discussions during the meeting and it was agreed that further discussions will take place through an intersessional informal correspondence group.
Limited and excepted quantities In an informal document, Canada reported on some work it had been doing to look at the assignment of limited quantity (LQ) and excepted quantity (EQ) values for a number of UN entries. A comparative table of maximum quantities, listed by Class/Division and Packing Group, appears in the Guiding Principles for the Development of the UN Model Regulations but, in practice, Canada said, it does not seem that these principles are applied consistently. For instance, it showed a number of UN entries for which the LQ limit is 1 litres, but the EQ value is either E2 or E0. For instance, in the case of UN Nos 1228, 1261 and 1278 (all Class 3, PG II), the LQ provisions allow their carriage in quantities of up to 1 L per inner packaging, contained in non-UN packagings, and without a limit in the number of packages transported, whereas they may not be transported under the EQ provisions, despite being in much smaller quantities and in stronger packagings.
The Sub-committee noted the paper and felt that the inconsistencies are there for historical reasons. Rather than change the LQ and EQ values to be more consistent, it felt that a clarification in the Guiding Principles would be more appropriate. Canada invited experts to provide comments so that a proposal can be prepared for the next session.
Living organisms The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, on behalf of the Inter-agency Liaison Group on Invasive Alien Species, sought the support of the Sub-committee for the inclusion of environmentally hazardous living organisms in the Model Regulations. Invasive alien species can have devastating effects on biodiversity and they can also cause loss of production in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and loss of trade opportunities in countries where biological invasions occur, which negatively impacts on sustainable development. The paper noted that the UN Model Regulations already cover environmentally hazardous substances that are polluting to the aquatic environment, and genetically modified organisms and micro-organisms.
The Sub-Committee noted the request and recommended that discussion of the topic was continued at the next session, inviting experts on biological invasions to join the discussion to provide more detail.
Fire suppression devices The Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) noted that there are a number of innovative fire suppression safety devices that use an explosive initiator (of Division 1.4) to disperse fine particles and that these are being transported around the world. The US Department of Transportation has approved them under a special permit for transport as a UN 3268 safety device. Nevertheless, the presence of the explosive initiator and the potential for the fire suppression cloud they generate to obscure firefighting capacity mean that this classification is uncertain. COSTHA wondered if a separate entry could be created to avoid potential confusion.
Several comments were made as to the most appropriate classification of these devices and, following the discussion, COSTHA volunteered to bring forward a revised proposal for a future session.
The second part of this two-part report on the UN TDG Sub-committee’s July 2019 session in next month’s HCB will focus on electric storage systems, the transport of gases, a wide range of miscellaneous proposals for amendment, efforts to harmonise regional and modal regulations with the UN Recommendations, and issues related to the GHS and its relationship with the transport regulations.
Meanwhile, the 56th session of the UN TDG Sub-committee was due to take place in Geneva from 4 to 10 December; a report on that session will be carried in a future issue or issues of HCB.[post_title] => UN: A flying start [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => un-a-flying-start [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-24 09:16:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-24 09:16:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=13134 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
The 2019/2020 regulatory biennium opened with a packed agenda for a one-week meeting of the UN experts, though few decisions were finalised