The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Department of Transportation’s inspector general are targeting “significant weaknesses” in the explosives shipments oversight at the agency that monitors dangerous cargoes.
T&I Chairman James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., criticized what he said were “a shocking number of failures” by DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. He also said there had been “outright neglect in regulating the transportation of hazardous materials” by the agency.
The committee released documents from the IG office, which on April 7 issued a “management advisory in the safety oversight of explosives classification approvals” and said that “immediate attention is needed” to improve PHMSA’s oversight.
The IG letter cited a lack of effective evaluation of approvals for what is classified as explosives, and “ineffective oversight of the four labs” PHMSA uses to test explosives.
The House panel plans its own oversight hearing April 22. But it said the IG review found PHMSA “authorized transportation of explosives for at least two companies without requiring testing and without examining the companies’ safety records” against its own regulations.
The companies were not identified. But the panel said the IG report showed one of them “had a six-year history of poor explosives safety compliance” and PHMSA was still allowing it to ship an explosive device “by cargo and commercial air as a non-explosive” without required testing.
Oberstar said he was “appalled” by the IG findings, which he said show PHMSA practices of allowing shipment of explosive materials without required testing puts passengers and flight crews at risk in the craft carrying those shipments. “This decade-long practice of rubber-stamping for the industry must come to an end,” he said.
For the T&I Committee’s posting of the IG memorandum, click here:
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