ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) has released its final rule on shipment of refrigerant cylinders with changes sought by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), which the association says will avoid disruption in the transport of cylinders.

In its rule (49 CFR 107, 171, 173, 177, and 180), titled "Hazardous Materials: Requirements for Maintenance, Requalification, Repair, and Use of DOT Specification Cylinders," the DOT amended the requirements for hazardous materials regulations applicable to DOT specification cylinders issued on August 8, 2002.

DOT would have required all cylinders containing type 2 materials, such as widely used R-22 and R-12, to be shipped vertically rather than horizontally. Additionally, the regulation would have required any cylinder containing type 2 materials to maintain constant communication between the pressure relief device and the vapor space when shipping.

According to William G. Sutton, president of ARI, "These requirements would have created significant disruption in the shipping of these materials and prevented the transport of millions of cylinders in use today."

In response to appeals submitted by ARI and other organizations, DOT has amended these provisions as follows: "Cylinders containing Class 2 gases, must be securely restrained in an upright or horizontal position, loaded in racks, or packed in boxes or crates to prevent the cylinders from being shifted, overturned, or ejected from the motor vehicle under normal transportation conditions.…"

In addition, the rule separately deals with flammable gas by stating "a pressure relief device, when installed, must be in communication with the vapor space of a cylinder containing a Division 2.1 (flammable gas) material, only." The changes were similar to those requested by several petitioners, including ARI.

"Overall, we are pleased that the department has considered ARI's arguments and amended the rule accordingly" said Sutton.

The effective date for the rule is June 9, 2003. This final rule supercedes any previous rulemaking.

Publication date: 05/19/2003