Wheelhouse Weekly – December 29, 2000

December 29th 2000


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 52. . . . . December 29, 2000






MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




Just in time for New Year’s celebrations, the Congressional Information Bureau reports that the US Dept. of Transportation has announced its revised drug and alcohol testing rule, which affects employees of transportation companies who occupy sensitive safety positions.

     The DOT said the action will further enhance the safety of the nation’s transportation, make the testing process easier to carry out and provide additional safeguards for employees.

     The revisions are also designed to make the complex safety program easier to understand and use, while reducing both compliance costs and paperwork.

     The department published a proposed rule a year ago and received over 400 written comments from interested individuals and organizations. DOT also held three public sessions in March 2000 throughout the country to gather additional comments.

     The issued rule amends the department’s regulations, first issued in 1988, to require drug testing of employees in sensitive safety positions in the aviation, motor carrier, rail, transit, maritime and pipeline industries. Alcohol testing was added to the requirements in 1994. The following are some of the changes from current requirements:

    To ensure fairness to employees, a medical review officer, who is a physician, will review the test results when a laboratory indicates that an employee’s specimen may have been adulterated or substituted. Any employee will also be able to obtain, at a different certified laboratory, a test of his or her split specimen-so called because specimens are split into two separate containers to allow for retesting-to make sure that the original laboratory did not make an error. Because of the potentially significant impact on the employee following an  adulterated or substituted specimen result report, the requirements for physician review and access to testing of the split will be implemented 30 days after publication of this rule. This is consistent with the procedures currently used for drugs of abuse.

    Validity testing, which is designed to deter and detect attempts to adulterate or substitute specimens, will continue to be voluntary on the part of the employer utilizing current procedures. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which regulates drug-testing laboratories, finalizes its mandatory procedures for validity testing, DOT will publish a notice in the Federal Register making validity testing mandatory in the transportation industry. This process will ensure greater uniformity and consistency of testing in all laboratories.

    Employers may apply to the appropriate DOT operating administration for a waiver allowing them to temporarily remove employees from performing safety-related tasks while the medical review officer is deciding whether there may be a legitimate medical explanation for a positive result from a laboratory. The conditions for obtaining a waiver include an important measure to continue to protect employee confidentiality and to allow an employee to be paid during this period.

    Contract service providers (often called consortia or third-parry administrators) will be authorized, to a greater extent than previously, to transmit information such as drug test results to employers.

    There is a new “public interest exclusion” provision in the rule which allows DOT to protect the public from the actions of service providers (firms that conduct tests under contract totransportation companies) that violate the department’s rules. This provision includes significant due-process protections to ensure that the process is fair.

    There are enhanced training requirements for drug and alcohol testing personnel. This measure is designed to refine procedures for collectors and breath alcohol technicians to increase theireffectiveness, to ensure accurate tests, to ensure that all medical review officers have current technical and regulatory information and training, and to ensure that substance abuse professionals across the country are consistent in their evaluation and assessment of employees who tested positive in the first round of testing for drugs or alcohol.

    The majority of the new rule goes into effect Aug. 1, 2001, to give employers and businesses time to learn about its provisions before moving to compliance. A few provisions, such as medical review officer review of suspected adulterated or substituted specimens, the split-specimen review procedures for validity testing, and the public interest exclusions provision, will go into effect 30 days after publication.

    The new rule will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The document will be posted in the department’s Docket Management System, which is accessible on-line at, docket OST-99-6578. It also may be found at A copy may be obtained by calling the fax-on-demand telephone line, (1-800-225-3784) and requesting document 151; by writing to the US DOT, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 10403, Wash., DC 20590; or by calling (202) 366-3784. =


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Journal of Commerce reports that a draft restriction is in place for vessels moving through an area of the Houston Ship Channel where a ship’s crane that struck the underside of the Loop 610 bridge briefly closed that portion of the channel.

 Vessels with more than 35 foot draft are restricted from going upriver from the ship channel bridge due to some concrete that fell into the water when the accident occurred last week.

 Normally, the Houston Ship Channel draft is 40 feet, but a survey of the bottom found a moderate amount of concrete debris from the accident so the restriction was put in place.

 The accident occurred when a crane on the flag-of-convenience M/V RICKMERS TIANJIN, a 574-foot Bahamas-flagged freight vessel, hit the underside of the bridge. A hole 30 feel long and eight feet wide was ripped in the overpass and affected the northbound side of the east loop.

 Vessel movements affected by the accident initially included three barge tows, eight harbor tows and one outbound bulk freight ship. One inbound freight ship was diverted to an alternate berth, the USCG said. The Texas DOT will seek recovery of an estimated $1 million in damages to the bridge.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines has exercised an option with Halter Marine for the construction of a second 579-foot car carrier. The vessel is designed to transport more than 4,300 vehicles between the US West Coast and Hawaii. Construction of the $69 million vessel will take place at Halter’s Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard. The first vessel is currently under construction at the same facility, with delivery scheduled for the Spring of 2002.

To read more go to…


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


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MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



//NFL Wild-card Playoff Schedule//

Sat: Ind at Mia, StL at NO

Sun: Den at Bal, TB at Phi.

//NFL Week 17 Results//

NYG 28 Jac 25, Den 38 SF 9, Buf 42 Sea 23, Bal 34 NYJ 20,

Atl 29, KC 13, Was 20 Ari 3, Chi 23 Det 20, Mia 27 NE 24,

StL 26 NO 21, GB 17 TB 14OT, Phi 16 Cin 7, Pit 34 SD 21,

Ind 31 Min 10, Oak 52 Car 9. Mon: Ten 31 Dal 0.

//NFL Final Standings//

AFC East . . . Central . . . West

Mia . 11-5 . . Ten . 13-3. . . Oak . 12-4

Ind . 10-6 . . Bal . 12-4. . . Den . 11-5

NYJ . .9-7 . . Pit . .9-7. . . KC. . .7-9

Buf . .8-8 . . Jac . .7-9. . . Sea . .6-10

NE. . .5-11. . Cin . .4-12 . . SD. . .1-15

 . . . . . . . Cle . .3-13 . . . . . . .

NFC East . . . Central . . . West

NYG . 12-4 . . Min . 11-5 . . NO. .10-6

Phi . 11-5 . . TB. . 10-6 . . StL . 9-6

Was . .8-8 . . Det . .9-7 . . Car . 7-9

Dal . .5-11. . GB. . .9-7 . . SF. . 6-10

Ari . .3-13. . Chi . 5-11 . . Atl . 4-12

//Selected College Football Bowl Games:

Dec.29: Liberty: Colo. St. (9-2) vs. Louisville (9-2)

Dec.29: Sun: UCLA (6-5) vs. Wisconsin (8-4)

Dec.29: Peach: Geogia Tech (9-2) vs. LSU (7-4)

Dec.29: Holiday: Texas (9-2) vs. Oregon (9-2)

Dec.30: Alamo: Nebraska (9-2) vs. Northwestern (8-3)

Dec.31: Independence: Texas A&M (7-4) vs. Miss. St. (7-4)

Jan. 1: Outback: Ohio St. (8-3) vs. South Carolina (7-4)

Jan. 1: Cotton: Kanas St (10-3 vs. Tennessee (8-3)

Jan. 1: Gator: Virginia Tech (10-1) vs. Clemson (9-2)

Jan. 1: Citrus: Michigan (8-3) vs. Auburn (9-3)

Jan. 1: Rose: Purdue (8-3) vs. Washingtom (10-1)

Jan. 1: Fiesta: Oregon St.(10-1) vs. Notre Dame (9-2)

Jan. 2: Sugar: Florida (10-2) vs. Miami (10-1)

Jan. 3: Orange: Okalhoma (12-0) vs. Florida St. (11-1) for National Championship. =


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our web page under “News” at:

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