The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) yesterday issued regulatory guidance clarifying its definition of a tank vehicle.  That definition, adopted in May 2011, required that all vehicles moving cargoes of bulk (capacity greater than 119 gallons) tanks that were permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle’s chassis, and with an aggregate capacity of more than 1,000 gallons, should be considered tank vehicles.

FMCSA clarified that the new definition does include intermediate bulk containers.  Second, the guidance stated that any tank that is properly secured in a vehicle should be considered attached to the chassis, regardless of the manner of securement.  Finally, the guidance stated that bulk tanks that are manifested as empty or as residue do not count toward the 1,000 gallon threshold to become a tank vehicle.

A coalition representing organizations impacted by FMCSA’s rule had requested this clarification.  The National Chicken Council is a member of that coalition, which is headed by the American Trucking Association.  The coalition petitioned for rulemaking and FMCSA has granted the petition.  Rulemaking to adopt the revised definition or at least some part of the definition will be undertaken in the future.  Yesterday’s guidance does not represent the agency’s final rulemaking in response to the petition.  FMCSA’s guidance can only interpret the definition of a tank vehicle until the new definition can be officially adopted.  It is hoped that FMCSA will be moving forward to adopt the suggested tank vehicle definition–a definition that was drafted to maximize operational flexibility without compromising safety, the petition indicated.

The American Trucking Association’s “Tank Vehicle Definition Guidance” summary is available here.  The FMCSA’s Federal Register notice of May 24 is available here.