PHMSA is committed to ensuring safety even before a hazardous materials package or pipeline crosses the American border from another country. As part of the ongoing process of harmonizing the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations with international standards and regulations, PHMSA participates in a number of international forums to communicate and guarantee the consideration of U.S. interests in the development of international standards. Public comments on positions taken and the outcome of these meetings are solicited through public meetings and outreach activities, and through a number of other media including this web page. The objective is to establish and maintain a global system of hazardous materials transportation regulations that will enhance the safe and effecient movement of hazardous materials. Harmonization with international standards enhances safety, compliance, and free trade while minimizing regulatory burden on the public.
In addition to harmonizing hazardous materials regulations, PHMSA and its Canadian counterpart, the National Energy Board, signed an Arrangement to enhance the cooperation and coordination of each country to improve the safety of its pipelines. The action is a planned effort to benefit the growing number of cross border pipelines being built to deliver Canadian, and potentially Alaskan, energy resources to various U.S. destinations. PHMSA and Canada are jointly inspecting some trans boundary pipeline operations, conducting joint technical analyses, and beginning to share accident and enforcement data for trans boundary options.
PHMSA is also continuously working with its counterparts in Canada and Mexico to prepare consistent guidelines for use by firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material. The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is primarily a guide to aid first responders in:
- Quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident.
- Protecting themselves and the general public during this initial response phase of the incident.
The ERG is updated every three to four years to accommodate new products and technologies.