CBP goes ahead with tanker residue reporting rule

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border protection is done considering whether it will require exporters and carriers to stipulate on electronic manifests the amount of residual chemicals left inside portable tank containers. It’s happening.

The new rule will take effect on August 16, 2009.

As todaytrsucking.com first reported in February, CBP proposed a change to the U.S. Tariff Act, canceling a previous allowance that held that a steel container filled with a chemical could be entered as "empty" when imported back into the U.S., notwithstanding the residue of chemicals remaining in the containers.

It was reasoned at the time that it is extremely difficult for a shipper to completely pump a tanker clean of certain residues and the amount left over at the bottom or stuck to the sidewalls of a container is usually minuscule.

Arguing that exempting such residues as ‘petroleum slops’ is inconsistent with how it treats other commodities and these materials risk the "safety and security" of CBP officers who examine them, CBP will now require the actual volumetric amount and weight of residue to be included on the manifest.

There will be no exceptions, even for trace amounts of residue. "Empty means an empty container. There is no de minimus allowance," states CBP.

Chemical residues in tank containers or railcars,
no matter if they’re trace amounts, need to
be measured and reported to CBP next month.

In its final rule (which can be read by clicking here and scrolling down the .pdf to pg. 138), CBP responded to several commenters, discounting most of their concerns.

One interested party, explains CBP, noted that many of their containers are already marked and placarded as required by the DOT and the shipping documentation includes a Material Safety Data Sheet that describes the residue inside the container, so the modified ruling is unnecessary.

CBP disagrees, "as these containers are not actually empty and therefore are
not in compliance with the advance cargo information transmission requirements."

As we noted previously, additional reporting could be burdensome and costly for certain shippers and their carriers as
e-manifests have to be submitted between half an hour (for FAST drivers) and an hour in advance of the unit reaching the port of entry.

Two commenters stated that in terms of exact quantities, railcars and bulk containers are filled to visible capacity, but not ‘‘scaled’’ until well en route. Regardless, CBP reiterated that any "industry practice must be reconciled with CBP’s advance cargo information transmissions" as required by advanced e-manifest rules.

In response to numerous other commenters worried that the additional requirements could increase congestion at the border and undercut the effectiveness of FAST lanes, CBP says there is no evidence that this will happen.

As for any additional costs, CBP responds: "Empty containers have always been required to be manifested, and a container must be empty to be manifested as such. Furthermore, these costs would merely bring the containers in compliance with customs laws they should have been subject to all along."


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