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DOT Issues Notice of Enforcement Discretion Regarding the Transportation of Hand Sanitizers to Address COVID-19

On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Notice of Enforcement Discretion (Notice) that provides temporary relief from certain aspects of the DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) that normally apply to the transportation of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizers. [1]

Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, demand for hand sanitizer has reached unprecedented levels. Many of these sanitizers are classified as Class 3 flammable liquids due to the alcohol content, which would trigger certain marking, labeling, packaging, documentation, and other compliance obligations for shippers (and carriers) under the DOT HMR. Although the DOT HMR already provide some regulatory relief for certain ethyl alcohol products in 49 CFR 173.150(g), this does not cover isopropyl alcohol products and it does not cover ethyl alcohol products in larger containers. To facilitate the availability of these products, PHMSA is providing temporary relief from certain HMR requirements. 

The Notice indicates that the relief applies to companies producing hand sanitizer under a recently issued Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidance document and to those who subsequently transport the hand sanitizer. [2]

Importantly, it applies only to highway shipments (by private, common, or contract carriers by motor vehicle) and not shipments by air, vessel, or rail.  

If parties follow the procedures for preparing hand sanitizer for shipment set forth in the Notice (as compared to all of the requirements specified in the HMR), PHMSA will not take enforcement action for violations of the HMR. The Notice provides separate procedures for shipping small quantities (< 1 gallon/container or 8 gallons/package) and for larger quantities (> 8 gallons to 119 gallons/package) of hand sanitizer.   

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLP


About this Author

Trent Doyle Environmental Compliance Attorney Keller Heckman Law Firm

Trent M. Doyle advises clients on all types of environmental matters, including compliance with U.S. and international chemical control laws, transportation of dangerous goods regulations, hazardous materials regulations, and community right-to-know laws. He also has special expertise in environmental permitting.

Mr. Doyle counsels clients on a wide spectrum of environmental and transportation matters, including those pertaining to chemical control, facility permitting (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act), hazardous materials shipping...

Taylor D. Johnson ASSOCIATE Keller Heckman California's Proposition 65 Chemical Control Environmental Litigation Transportation Workplace Safety and Health

Taylor Johnson is an environmental lawyer specializing in the area of environmental regulation of products, including chemical control, pesticides, energy efficiency regulation, and importantly, domestic and international transportation of hazardous materials. Mr. Johnson also advises clients on community-right-to-know laws, Proposition 65, occupational safety and health matters, and supports a wide variety of commercial tort and other litigation issues.

Mr. Johnson has special expertise in the area of hazardous materials transport, including enforcement defense and compliance counseling. Mr. Johnson helps companies secure competent authority approvals, special permits, and letters of interpretation from regulatory authorities around the world. He has also prepared successful petitions to PHMSA on behalf of shippers seeking regulatory relief.