In an Interim Rule published in the Federal Register on August 7, 2006, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that commercial drivers in Canada and Mexico who want to transport placarded hazardous materials into the U.S. must have Free and Secure Trade (FAST) accreditation. The rule goes into effect Aug. 10, 2006.
Under the new rule, explosives now come under the broader definition of hazmat. Previously, a less extensive background check was sufficient for carrying explosive materials across the borders.
The cross-border hazmat background checks were originally mandated by the 2005 Highway Bill, aka SAFETEA-LU. Specifically, the legislation requires that beginning August 10, 2006, commercial drivers licensed in Canada and Mexico cannot bring hazardous materials into the U.S. unless they undergo background checks similar to those required of U.S. drivers requesting hazardous-materials endorsements (HME) for their CDLs.
Applications for FAST cards, which are issued by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), can be downloaded from www.cbp.gov.
For drivers who not qualify for a FAST card, TSA is “actively exploring other options.” At this point, however, the FAST program is the only threat assessment process considered comparable to an HME.
TSA is accepting comments to the Interim Rule until October 6, 2006. Comments can be filed electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. Refer to Docket No. TSA-2006-25541; Amendment No. 1572-6.
To access the rule in the Federal Register, go to http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/06-6754.htm