The UN Experts' first session of the new biennium saw most proposals batted back for further information but some decisions were taken
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.
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.
The first part of this two-part report (HCB December 2019, page 57) covered discussions relating to the transport of explosives and a number of proposals on classification and packaging. This second part covers the remaining proposals and deliberations.
ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS
Given the pace of technical development in the sector, it was perhaps not surprising that there were a lot of proposals relating to batteries, cells and other articles in the area of energy storage – and not all of them concerning lithium batteries. One that did appeared in the form of an informal document from the Medical Device Battery Transport Council (MDBTC) and the Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA), querying the correct classification of small, wireless audio headphones (‘earbuds’) and hearing aids, along with their associated charging cases. There is confusion as to whether these should be shipped under UN 3480 or 3481, or both, with the paper proposing an additional paragraph in special provision 188 to clarify that UN 3481 (“packed with”) is appropriate.
The Sub-committee had some concerns with the potential scope of the proposal and MDBTC offered to refine the proposal, taking account of the comments made.
MDBTC also had some queries about the lithium battery test summary (TS) document. It asked for changes 2.9.4(g) to clarify that the TS document is not intended as a transport document, and that it applies only to cells or batteries shipped under UN 3480 or 3090. The Sub-committee agreed that the TS document does not need to accompany the transport document but felt that the current text is clear enough; it did not agree with the second point, clarifying that test summaries are intended for standalone batteries as well as batteries installed in equipment, so information should be provided in all cases.
PRBA and the European Association for Advanced Rechargeable Batteries (Recharge) sought changes to 38.3.3(d) and (g) in the Manual of Tests and Criteria, to clarify the exemption for assembled batteries fitted with overcharge protection. There was general support for the idea, although some delegations asked for more time to review the details. A new official document will be submitted at a forthcoming session.
France reported on progress made so far by the informal working group on hazard-based classification of lithium batteries and cells, which had held its third meeting after the previous session of the Sub-committee in December 2018. Since then, inter-laboratory cooperation has organised a testing programme, which was expected to produce results at the next meeting of the working group in October 2019. A lunchtime meeting was arranged during the Sub-committee’s session, where it was agreed that clear guidance should be given on the testing methodology.
A lengthy paper from China presented the results of extensive testing on different types of battery to establish any linkage between thermal runaway and the state of charge (SOC), noting that ICAO had already introduced an SOC limit of 30 per cent in the Technical Instructions. The research had found that only lithium ion cells and batteries show a correlation between the SOC and their safety risks, and China proposed to insert a similar specification in Chapter 3.3 of the Model Regulations, requiring lithium ion cells with a total mass of more than 500 g, and batteries comprising them, to be transported at an SOC of no more than 30 per cent.
The Sub-committee welcomed the work that China had done and the detail in its report, but some comments were made and it was felt that further review is necessary. China also offered to collaborate with the hazard-based classification working group, as its search for a method to assess the reactivity of batteries in general may also be used to assess the reactivity in relation to the level of charge.
The last meeting of ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel had discussed the intent of the “telephone number for additional information” that is required on the lithium battery mark. It was considered vague as it does not specify the entity for which the number is needed, the circumstances under which additional information might be required, or what that additional information might be. It was noted that the requirement for a phone number was introduced at a time when there were a number of safety recalls and the process for handling them was relatively new. Now that there is greater awareness, it was suggested consideration could be given to achieving the original objective in a less ambiguous manner. Some thought requiring a phone number is unnecessary, especially as it is not required for fully regulated shipments of lithium batteries.
The Sub-committee agreed to examine the current provisions and to identify if the original intent of the phone number has been achieved in other ways. Recharge offered to prepare a proposal for consideration at the next session, including provisions for an appropriate transitional period.
Another paper from MDBTC referred back to earlier discussions on the transport and definition of damaged or defective lithium cells and batteries. The Council felt that special provision 376 could be more explicit in removing those cells and batteries that have experienced a thermal event and no longer present a hazard in transport from the scope of the regulations. MDBTC said this has become a very common scenario.
The Sub-committee did not support the proposal as it lacked any assessment criteria. MDBTC offered to refine its proposal for consideration at a later date.
The UK continued with its work to get an appropriate classification for sodium ion batteries. Discussions at earlier sessions has shown the Sub-committee to be sympathetic to the idea that these batteries do not pose a hazard during transport and should therefore be exempted from the Model Regulations; however, more information had been requested. The UK’s latest paper aimed to answer the remaining questions and came with a proposal for a new special provision to exempt sodium ion cells and batteries, transported in a shorted or discharged state, from the provisions of the Model Regulations other than a general packaging requirement.
The UK’s paper was, though, overtaken by an informal document from France which, while supporting the UK’s efforts, felt a better approach would be to assign a UN number to sodium ion cells and batteries, with applicable provisions that could include exemptions from the provisions under specified conditions. The UK bowed to France on this issue. It was also clarified that the aim of the proposal was to create a separate entry for sodium ion batteries and to establish the corresponding transport conditions. The existing entry for sodium metal batteries would not be amended, at least not for the time being.
The Sub-committee wants to take a careful approach to this subject, perhaps being alert to the problems caused by the repeated changes to the lithium battery provisions, and also wanted to consider the intrinsic hazards posed by sodium ion batteries. France and the UK will work on the subject with the aim of finalising a text by the end of the current biennium, that is, by December 2020.
OTIF reported on issued facing the rail industry in the use of the UN 3536 entry for lithium batteries installed in cargo transport units. It noted that, when the subject was first discussed in 2016, the term ‘transportable battery power system’ had been offered as a proper shipping name, but not used. The Sub-committee had adopted special provision 389, which includes provisions for the placarding and marking of cargo transport units; once this was introduced into RID, ADR and ADN, it became a problem since the placarding requirements of RID and ADR differ. OTIF had brought this to the attention of the spring 2019 Joint Meeting and its paper to the Sub-committee included a precis of that discussion, which had raised some questions that only the Sub-committee could answer.
Firstly, what is meant by ‘cargo transport unit’ in the proper shipping name of UN 3536? Does that cover containers as well as wagons and vehicles, as in its definition in 1.2.1? Would another term, such as ‘power storage unit’, be more appropriate? And was there a conscious decision to align the placarding and marking provisions in SP 389 with the essential provisions in 126.96.36.199.4 and 188.8.131.52.2?
Some delegations agreed that the term ‘cargo transport unit’ as defined in the Model Regulations is not appropriate and that the use of the term needs to be clarified in relation to UN 3536. Others recalled that similar discussions had already taken place several times and that the term had been chosen on purpose. However, the Sub-committee did agree to continue discussion of the subject at the next session and invited OTIF and PRBA to draw up proposals for revision.
Another paper from PRBA reported on what the Association said was confusion, including on the part of some authorities, about the use under packing instruction P903 of packagings with a net mass exceeding 400 kg. There appears to be a misunderstanding, PRBA said, that in such cases, batteries or equipment must be packaged in large packagings in accordance with LP903. It sought clarification in the Model Regulations that this is not the case.
The Sub-committee confirmed PRBA’s interpretations but did not care for the solution that had been offered. PRBA will refine its proposal for the next session.
On a similar topic, PRBA and Recharge sought changes to P903 to remove confusion arising from inconsistencies in the language used in the Model Regulations and in the ICAO Technical Instructions. Their paper offered a change to paragraph (2) of P903 but this did not meet with approval, some experts being of the opinion that it made matters even less clear. PRBA and Recharge will refine the proposal for future consideration.
The same two organisations also sought a correction to special provision 377 which, they said, is now incomplete since the introduction of P911 and LP906 and the modification of SP 376. They offered two options. There was broad support in the Sub-committee, with some experts saying a revision of SP 310 might also be necessary. Recharge offered to prepare a revised proposal for discussion at the next session.
TRANSPORT OF GASES
A paper from Canada addressed what it said was an inconsistency in the marking requirements for cylinders and tubes. In 184.108.40.206.4(p), cylinders and tubes must be marked with ‘H’ when the steel of their construction is compatible with hydrogen embrittling gases. This applies to steel pressure receptacles and to composite pressure receptacles with steel liners, but the latter are omitted from P200(5)d. The Sub-committee agreed, inserting “or composite pressure receptacles with steel liners” after “steel pressure receptacles” in that special packing provision ‘d’.
A paper prepared jointly by the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA), the Compressed Gases Association (CGA) and the European Cylinder Makers Association (ECMA) reported on work to clarify the meaning of the term ‘pressure receptacle’ and to rationalise the use of that term and ‘pressure receptacles and their closures’, as both are used in Chapter 6.2. The paper included a long list of proposed amendments, mostly affecting Chapter 6.2 but also the definitions in 1.2.1 and in 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
The proposals were welcomed by the Sub-committee but there were also a number of requests for clarification. EIGA thanked the experts for their feedback and offered to submit a revised document at the next session.
France proposed an amendment to 22.214.171.124.1 on the standards applicable to the periodic inspection and testing of pressure receptacles, to take account of the adoption of ISO 18119:2018 Gas cylinders – Seamless steel and seamless aluminium-alloy gas cylinders and tubes – Periodic inspection and testing, which has now replaced ISO 10461 and ISO 6406. However, as there were no copies of the new standard available, the Sub-committee did not feel it could support the document. Discussion will resume at the next session, providing the text of the new standard is available.
EIGA looked at the use of a ring to carry information on the date of the most recent periodic inspection; in the Model Regulations, 126.96.36.199.8 allows this for acetylene cylinders, but RID/ADR allow it for other substances and on pressure drums as well as cylinders. This has been in place for several years with no reports of safety or technical issues. EIGA proposed a similar provision in the Model Regulations.
Some experts raised concerns about the possible loss of the ring and the need for fraud prevention but, after careful consideration, decided to adopt the proposed amendment. As a result, 188.8.131.52.8 will now read:
The marks in accordance with 184.108.40.206.7 may be engraved on a metallic ring affixed to the cylinder or pressure drum when the valve is installed, and which is removable only by disconnecting the valve from the cylinder or pressure drum.
In a joint paper with the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services (CTIF), Spain returned to its plan to modify the labels for gases to enhance hazard communication and differentiate more clearly flammable and toxic gases from flammable liquids and toxic substances. The solution offered was to include the gas cylinder symbol within the red, green or white (as appropriate) diamond.
While recognising that emergency response services and safety of the emergency response personnel were of the utmost importance, there was no consensus on the merits of the proposal. Several delegations indicated that there have been no reports of incidents or problems in practice and that the label or placard are not the only way to communicate hazards. They were reluctant to change a system that was considered to work well.
Others, though, saw some merit in the proposal; a clear way to distinguish gases in transport could represent in improvement in safety. The Sub-committee felt further investigation was needed, not least in terms of costs and benefits, but realised this would be a time-consuming exercise. Spain and CTIF offered to organise a correspondence group to review the proposal and to provide additional justification by an impact assessment in cooperation with the US delegation. They invited interested delegates to join that group.
Germany drew attention to what it saw as an inconsistency in the way that intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are addressed in 220.127.116.11.2, which allows for the use of alternatives to the requirements of the Model Regulations. This seems to be in line with the similar provisions in 18.104.22.168 for portable tanks and multiple-element gas containers, but differs from the approach taken for other forms of packaging in 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52. It offered a new text for 184.108.40.206.2 which, after some discussion, was deemed acceptable. This will now read:
The requirements for IBCs in 6.5.3 are based on IBCs currently used. In order to take into account progress in science and technology, there is no objection to the use of IBCs having specifications different from those in 6.5.3 and 6.5.5, provided that they are equally effective, acceptable to the competent authority and able successfully [to withstand the tests] described in 6.5.4 and 6.5.6. Methods of inspection and testing other than those described in these Regulations are acceptable, provided they are equivalent.
Belgium highlighted an issue with the permitted period of use for composite IBCs with a plastic inner receptacle. According to 220.127.116.11 this period is five years from the date of manufacture. This is, though, treated differently in various international and national modal regulations, with some applying the five-year limit to the entire IBC and some just to the plastic inner receptacle. This causes confusion, in particular with repaired and remanufactured IBCs. Belgium’s paper proposed an explanatory note to 18.104.22.168.
Most experts felt this was useful to clarify the intent of that paragraph and, on a vote, the Note was adopted:
NOTE: for composite IBCs the period of use refers to the date of manufacture of the inner receptacle.
The Stainless Steel Container Association (SSCA) proposed extending the terms of 22.214.171.124 to allow substances of packing group I to be transported in metal IBCs. SSCA justified this by pointing out that manufacturing processes have improved greatly in recent years, ensuring much better performance by metal IBCs. This is validated by improved test procedures and non-destructive test methods.
Most of those who expressed an opinion felt that there was a need for more data and information on the substances and quantities involved. Further work is also needed on the assessment method and criteria for such packagings. SSCA offered to revise the proposal before the next session.
The UK identified a need to introduce packaging performance tests for articles with the potential to produce excessive heat, following the emergence of articles and substances that present this particular hazard. This was not an issue when the packaging performance tests were first developed but in recent years there have been a number of accidents and incidents, not least with lithium batteries.
Most experts welcomed this initiative and it was agreed that more work needs to be done. Recharge offered to share information with the UK on the ongoing work of the SAE standardisation group on packagings. The chair invited all experts to share relevant information with the UK. Once there is more information available, the Sub-committee will consider the best way to move forward.
The International Confederation of Plastics Packagings Manufacturers (ICPP) alerted the Sub-committee to its intention to submit proposals to extend the use of recycled plastics material in the manufacture of plastics packagings for the transport of dangerous goods. This is currently allowed only for plastics drums and jerrycans, with certain restrictions and requirements. Its paper noted that, given the experience gained in using recyclate, some of these controls may be modified or removed. It also remarked on approvals granted by the US competent authority for amended controls.
Delegates were invited to submit their comments to ICPP so that a more detailed exchange of views could take place at the next session on the basis of a revised document.
A joint paper from Recharge, PRBA, the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) and the Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) looked at the applicability of packing instruction LP906, which contains provisions for the packaging of damaged and defective batteries. Industry is looking at robust and quite massive packaging capable of containing the hazards of the large lithium batteries in case of thermal reaction. These packaging may also contain expensive specific devices for extinguishing or controlling the reactions hazards.
The issue raised by the paper is that packing instruction P911, which covers the same ground for smaller packagings, allows for the packaging to be used for multiple batteries but LP906, the provisions of which are identical in most respects to P911, cannot be used for packagings with more than one battery. The paper offered two solutions to change LP906.
There was general agreement that LP906 would benefit from clarification but the Sub-committee could not find a common position on the proposal as it stood. It was agreed that discussion would continue at the next session on the basis of a revised proposal.
Three informal documents on the topic of fibre-reinforce plastics (FRP) portable tanks were passed to an informal working group, chaired by Steve Webb (US). The Sub-committee endorsed the recommendations of this working group, noting the work on new provisions to ensure an equivalent level of safety between metal and FRP tanks, and approved the plan to continue work on this subject during the 2019-2020 biennium.
Russia had put forward a plan to create a new 6.9.3 with requirements for the structure, manufacturing, inspection and testing of portable tanks constructed of polymeric composite materials and intended for the carriage of non-refrigerated liquefied gas of maximum permissible working pressure 20.0 bar and less. This too will be considered by the informal working group.
A second paper from Russia looked at the use of FRP materials for the construction of valves, relief devices and manholes for portable tanks (not necessarily FRP tanks). This was also passed to the informal working group for consideration.
Romania, with the support of Switzerland, had continued with its long-running work to examine the text of the Model Regulations closely and to rationalise the use of the terms ‘risk’, ‘hazard’ and ‘danger’, presenting a long list of proposed changes. The Sub-committee thanked them for their work and invited the experts to take a close look to determine which of the proposed changes could be deemed ‘editorial’ in nature and could therefore be adopted without discussion.
It was also pointed out that similar work is going on at the RID/ADR/ADN Joint Meeting and that the results of that work should be taken into account in any amendments to the Model Regulations. It was agreed to set up a correspondence working group, led by Romania, to finalise the proposals.
The European Aerosol Federation (FEA) and the Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA) alerted the Sub-committee to the adoption by the European Commission of Directive 2016/2037, which amends the maximum pressure permitted in aerosol dispensers. This change followed a proposal from FEA to adapt the Aerosol Dispensers Directive (75/324/EEC) to adapt to technical progress. The two organisations proposed that the Model Regulations follow the Commission’s lead, with proposals to amend SP 63.
There were a number of technical questions in response and, while there was general support for the proposal, the Sub-committee felt it premature to adopt it; discussions will continue on the basis of more detailed information.
Germany and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) returned with more information on their earlier informal document to harmonise the application and meaning of the term ‘structurally servicable’, noting the different scope of this term in respect of its use for different types of container and different classes of dangerous goods in the various regional and modal regulations.
While the majority supported the proposed amendments, some concerns were raised, although Germany insisted that the proposal reflects current practice in the transport of dangerous goods in all cargo transport units. Once again, the Sub-committee requested more information and will continue discussions at a future session.
Canada proposed removing the volumetric capacity limit of 450 litres from the definition of ‘large packaging’ in 1.2.1, citing the different approach taken to the topic in the definition of ‘combination packaging’. The UK followed up with further thoughts in an informal document and, as this had been submitted rather late, some experts asked for more time to study the proposals in detail. A revised proposal will be presented at the next session.
The secretariat provided an informal document outlining some concerns expressed by the RID/ADR/ADN Joint Meeting Ad Hoc Working Group on the harmonisation of RID/ADR/ADN with the UN Model Regulations at its meeting in April 2019. The Ad Hoc Working Group had asked the Sub-committee to offer its views before the topics were discussed by the Joint Meeting. However, the Sub-committee felt unable to make decisions on the basis of a lengthy informal document (and perhaps also being short of the time it would take to give the lengthy paper its full attention) and asked the secretariat to submit a working document before the next session.
Similarly, ICAO submitted a paper containing observations made by its Dangerous Goods Panel in April 2019 on problems it was having in transposing some of the new provisions in the 21st revised edition of the Model Regulations into the Technical Instructions. Again, though, the Sub-committee had concerns of its own, particularly regarding the potential for divergence among the modal regulations, and asked for another chance to look at the subject at the next session.
Likewise, IMO submitted a paper containing a report of the Editorial and Technical (E&T) Group’s April 2019 session, where it was agreeing amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code and its Supplements on the basis of the 21st revised edition of the Model Regulation. It too wanted to draw the Sub-committee’s attention to some issues it was facing in the process. The Sub-committee noted that some of the more editorial problems had already been dealt with and asked for a working document at the next session if there were any technical issues that needed to be addressed.
A number of papers dealt with work going on at the UN Sub-committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS); although great care is taken not to tread on the toes of the sister TDG Sub-committee, there are times when collaboration is required. One of those is the testing of oxidising liquids and solids and France reported on recent work. In particular, the GHS Sub-committee is looking at the potential modification of existing classification criteria for coated materials.
The EU thanked the Sub-committee for adopting its suggested changes to the references to OECD Test Guidelines in 126.96.36.199 of the Model Regulations but came back with some more amendments that it thought would clarify the requirements. This was accepted and adopted.
The Sub-committee noted that Friedrich Kirchnawy had retired in May and would no longer attend as head of the Austrian delegation. His colleague Ewald Haidl has also retired. The Sub-committee thanks both of them for the contributions over the years.
The 56th session of the UN TDG Sub-committee took place between 4 and 10 December 2019. A report on that meeting will appear in a forthcoming issue of HCB.[post_title] => UN: More to follow [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => un-more-to-follow [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-02 09:51:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-02 09:51:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=14663 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
The UN Experts' first session of the new biennium saw most proposals batted back for further information but some decisions were taken