International carriage of dangerous goods
|Publisher:||Department for Transport|
|Published date:||23 August 2007|
|Mode/topic:||Aviation, Rail, Roads, Shipping, Aviation safety, Freight, Rail safety, Road safety|
International work on the carriage of dangerous goods centres on the United Nations Committee of Experts and related ad hoc specialist groups. The role of the UN, and the way in which the Department for Transport (DfT) and other Departments and agencies work with UN Committees and specialist groups falls under five headings:
1. International carriage – role of the UN
2. International carriage by road
2a. Multilateral Agreements (MAs)
3. International carriage by rail
4. International carriage by sea
5. International carriage by air
International carriage – role of the UN
The principal international agreement, on which all other dangerous goods controls are grounded, is the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNRTDG, known as the ‘Orange Book’). The ‘Orange Book’ sets out recommendations for the classification and labelling dangerous goods and requirements for packaging, tanks and containers. Although these recommendations have no legal force, they present a basic scheme of provisions that allows uniform development of national and international regulations. The recommendations have legal force only when they are adopted into modal (mode-specific) agreements or domestic legislation. Modal agreements and domestic legislation can go beyond the ‘Orange Book’, by including additional modal and domestic requirements.
The United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria (UNMTC) sets out test methods and criteria to assist national competent authorities and consignors in the accurate classification of dangerous goods. The UNMTC does not set out any duties, merely technical information on testing – the intention being that the outcome of testing should inform the determination of a correct classification. As with the UNRTDG, the UNMTC only has legal force when referred to by modal agreements and domestic legislation.
International carriage by road
International regulation of the carriage of dangerous goods by road within Europe is achieved via the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road which was drawn up by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva. The Agreement is more commonly known as "ADR" (from Accord Européen Relatif au Transport International des Marchandises Dangereuses par Route).
The provisions of ADR set out how producers/consignors and carriers should classify, package, label and transport dangerous goods. Also included are specific vehicle and tank requirements and various other operational requirements such as driver training.
A body of international experts, known as WP.15, meets twice a year at the UN in Geneva to discuss and update ADR; the current version is 2009. The 2009 version is also available in hard copy from either the UNECE or TSO book shops.
Multilateral Agreements (MAs)
The purpose of ADR MAs is to allow a temporary derogation of up to 5 years from the provisions of ADR. In other words, carriers or consignors may follow the specifications set out in the MA rather than in the corresponding text of ADR. From a UK perspective, MAs are sometimes used where UK practice has differed for historical reasons, although this is becoming less common as ADR now forms the basis for domestic legislation.
A MA may also be appropriate in situations where WP.15 has agreed, but not yet formally adopted, changes which countries may wish to implement more quickly. Carriage of dangerous goods under the terms of a MA can only be undertaken between and on the territory of those Contracting Parties which have signed the Agreement (RID MAs operate on a broadly similar basis to ADR MAs).
International carriage by rail
The international carriage of dangerous goods by rail within Europe is governed by Annex I of the Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail ( COTIF, from Convention de l’Organisation Intergouvernmentale pour les Transports Internationaux Ferroviaires).
Annex I is the Regulations Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail. It is more commonly known as " RID" (from Règlement Concernant le Transport International Ferroviaire des Marchandises Dangereuses).
RID is published by OTIF (the Central Office for International Carriage by Rail, or Office Central des Transports Internationaux Ferroviaires), and updated every two years (current edition 2009). Any amendments to the Regulations are discussed and agreed by the RID Committee of Experts. An English translation of RID is available from TSO.
International carriage by sea
The principal international rules for the carriage of packaged dangerous goods by sea are published in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code which closely reflects the UN Model Regulations. Amendments to the IMDG Code are the responsibility of IMO sub-committees. The carriage of goods in bulk in ships is covered by separate codes such as the International Bulk Chemical Code and the International Gas Carrier Code. The IMO is based in London; the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, an agency of the Department for Transport (DfT), plays (in consultation with industry) a leading part in its deliberations.
International carriage by air
ICAO’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air ( ICAO Technical Instructions ) – which are closely aligned with the UN Model Regulations – cover the following: classification of substances and articles; their packing (including specifications and tests for packaging); the marking and labelling of packages; the documentation of consignments; the acceptance procedures to be used by air operators (including the inspection of packages for leakage or damage) and the loading of dangerous goods on aircraft and the training of personnel involved in the transport of dangerous goods by air.
The Dangerous Goods Panel of ICAO recommends to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) what amendments to the Technical Instructions are required. The ANC, in turn, recommends the changes to the Council, which gives approval to the publication of revised Instructions published every two years. The UK, as a Contracting State of ICAO, is required to take the necessary measures to achieve compliance with the ICAO Technical Instructions. Airline operators also require compliance with IATA’s ‘Dangerous Goods Regulations‘.