North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Land Transportation Standards Sub-Committee (LTSS), Hazardous Materials Land Transportation Standards Working Group (LTSS, Group 5)
The Hazardous Materials Land Transportation Standards Working Group, Group 5 of the NAFTA Land Transportation Standards Sub-Committee is responsible for implementing a work program for making compatible the relevant hazardous materials standards within the United States, Canada and Mexico using as their basis the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Group 5 is one of four groups established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Land Transportation Standards Sub-Committee (LTSS) in response to Annex 913.5.a-1 of the NAFTA. Under NAFTA, hazardous materials regulations are to be harmonized by January 1, 2000.
RSPA's International Standards Coordinator has been working with Mexican and Canadian government officials to harmonize hazardous materials transportation requirements as the U.S. chairperson for Group 5. To date, considerable progress has been made in harmonizing the hazardous materials standards (regulations) in each of the NAFTA countries. A guiding principle for U.S. participation in Group 5 has been that the level of safety provided by the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations should not be compromised in the harmonization process. Group 5's primary focus over the past two years has been to harmonize the hazardous materials regulations of the NAFTA partners.
The effort was primarily devoted to reviewing and commenting on the emerging Official Mexican Standards with the goal of assuring that the standards developed in Mexico are consistent with existing U.S. and Canadian regulations and the UN Recommendations. The Mexican regulation entitled "Regulations for Surface Transportation of Hazardous Materials and Wastes" was signed on April 7, 1993. It provides a framework for the overall regulation of the transport of hazardous materials and wastes within Mexico. The regulation authorized the Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) to develop hazardous materials transportation standards augmenting the regulation. Since the authorization of the regulation, at least 22 standards (commonly referred to as NOMs short for Normas) have been made effective and published in the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register (Diario Official). See the Mexican Standards page for a current listing Normas/NOMs.
The Mexican standards, cover various regulatory requirements including a list of hazardous materials and associated special provisions, hazard communication (e.g emergency response information, labeling, placarding and shipping paper requirements), package marking and testing, intermediate bulk and bulk packagings (e.g. IBCs, cargo tank trucks, portable tanks), compatibility, segregation and classification criteria. The standards also cover visual inspection of transport units, securement and restraint of lading and cleaning of transport units. To improve awareness of the Mexican regulations and standards, RSPA has translated the Mexican Regulations for Surface Transportation of Hazardous Materials and Wastes and the 22 effective standards into English. They are available to the public through the Hazardous Materials Information Exchange (HMIX) electronic bulletin board and through RSPA's dockets unit.
As part of the harmonization effort, Group 5 has also devoted a large portion of its efforts to harmonizing emergency response requirements. The North American Emergency Response Guidebook (NAERG) was published in 1996 in the three languages of the NAFTA countries and is currently available from the Government Printing Office as well as through commercial sources. The NAERG was based on a compilation of the best attributes of the U.S. and Canadian ERGs and recommendations provided by SCT.
U.S. and Canadian regulations are currently harmonized as both are now based on the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. In addition, both regulations include reciprocity provisions to resolve some minor differences. Nevertheless, some differences exist and Group 5 provides a forum for resolving these differences.
Transport Canada publishes its regulations and proposed amendments to its regulations on the Internet. To view current Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations or a major re-write, into clear language, of the entire TDG Regulations visit Transport Canada's website at
Regardless of efforts to harmonize differences between the regulations and the reciprocity provisions, some differences remain as a result of differing regulatory implementation schedules, statutory mandates on the parts of each government, differing regulatory decisions (e.g. Poison inhalation hazard requirements in the U.S., corrosive gas classification in Canada) and regulatory decisions made as a result of the public comment process. Realizing that total elimination of regulatory differences would be nearly impossible, Group 5 agreed to pursue the development of a North American Dangerous Goods Transportation Code. The Code will be based on the "Model Rule" being developed by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
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