The Research and Special Programs Administration ("RSPA") of the Department of Transportation promulgated new regulations on February 14, 2000, that expanded the number of businesses that must register and pay fee assessments if they transport, or offer for transportation, certain categories and quantities of hazardous materials. Under the old regulations the filing of the registration statement with RSPA was required only for those who transported, or offered for transportation in commerce, one or more of the following categories of hazardous materials:
1. a highway-route controlled quantity of radioactive materials;
2. more than 55 pounds of explosive materials in a motor vehicle, rail car or freight container;
3. a package containing more than one liter of a hazardous material designated as extremely toxic by inhalation;
4. a hazardous material in a bulk packaging, container or tank with a capacity equal to or greater than 3,500 gallons for liquids or gases or more than 468 cubic feet for solids; or
5. a shipment in other than a bulk packaging of 5,000 pounds or more gross weight of a class of hazardous materials for which placarding of a vehicle, rail car or freight container is required.
Under the new regulations RSPA has expanded the base of registrants to include each person who offers for transport, or transports a shipment of hazardous materials for which placarding of a bulk packaging, freight container, unit load device, transport vehicle or rail car is required. RSPA believes that the expansion will make shippers and carriers involved in the shipment of the placarded loads of hazardous materials, bear their fair share of the financial burden that falls on state and local government agencies to develop emergency plans and to train first-on-the-scene responders. It also believes that it will create a more current list of persons engaged in the transportation of appreciable shipments of hazardous materials.
The funds collected through the registration fees support the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grants Program. These grants are used by state and local governments to enhance emergency response planning and training activities to protect communities in the event of a hazardous materials incident. Exempted from the registration program are farmers transporting hazardous materials in support of their farming operations.
The fee structure has also been changed by the regulations. The old regulations had a $250 fee. The new structure will be a two-tier fee schedule of $300 for a company meeting the small business criteria for its category established by the Small Business Administration, and $2,000 for larger businesses. The regulations will be effective May 1, 2000.