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December 27, 2023

Postal ServiceTM Proposes New Mailing Standards for Hazardous Materials Outer Packaging and Nonregulated Toxic Materials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Postal Service (Postal Service) published a proposed rule on December 15, 2023, that would amend Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail (Pub 52), by requiring specific outer packaging strength standards when mailing hazardous materials (HAZMAT) or dangerous goods (DG) and remove quantity restrictions for nonregulated toxic materials. 88 Fed. Reg. 86868. The Postal Service proposes to allow mailers to use poly or padded bags as outer packaging for shipments containing lithium batteries installed in the equipment they operate if the shipment does not display hazardous text, markings, or labels as permitted in Pub 52 Sections 349 and 622. Comments are due January 16, 2024.

According to the proposed rule, the Postal Service is proposing these requirements to increase the capability of packages to withstand normal processing and handling from induction to delivery point while reducing potential HAZMAT or DG incidents. The Postal Service notes that it is cognizant that the existing regulations in Pub 52 pertaining to other nonregulated toxic materials (Pub 52, Section 346.232) are more stringent than other transportation regulatory agencies and commercial carriers and therefore proposes to align its regulations with the transportation industry. The Postal Service states that if it adopts the proposed rule, it will amend Pub 52 to remove quantity restrictions for nonregulated liquid and solid toxic materials, for products such as pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. The Postal Service “believes this proposal will provide mailers a clearer understanding of its rules when shipping nonregulated toxic materials and align its regulations with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).”