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    Mr. Kim Jensen
    Commercial Affairs Officer
    Royal Danish Consulate General
    211 East Ontario #1800
    Chicago, IL 60611

    Dear Mr. Jensen:

    This is in response to your October 19, 2000, fax requesting information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations governing asbestos-containing gaskets in renovated engines for classic European cars. Specifically, you ask this office to confirm that the gaskets may contain asbestos.

    Under 49 U.S.C. 30101, NHTSA has the authority to regulate motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(7) defines "motor vehicle equipment" as:

    (A) any system, part, or component of a motor vehicle as originally manufactured; [or] (B) any similar part or component manufactured or sold for replacement or improvement of a system, part, or component, or as an accessory or addition to a motor vehicle.

    Under 49 U.S.C. 30112, a person may not manufacture for sale, sell, offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction in interstate commerce, or import into the U.S., any motor vehicle equipment unless it complies with NHTSA standards. In addition, manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment must ensure that their products are free of safety-related defects. Gaskets in renovated engines meet the definition of "motor vehicle equipment," and thus are under NHTSA's jurisdiction. To date, however, NHTSA has not promulgated any Federal motor vehicle safety standards on gaskets.

    Nevertheless, other federal agencies do regulate asbestos and may maintain regulations governing the use of asbestos in gaskets. For example, the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration classifies asbestos as a hazardous material and maintains regulations governing the shipment of asbestos-containing material (49 C.F.R. 172.101). Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates asbestos as a hazardous substance and maintains rules governing occupational exposures to asbestos (29 C.F.R. 1910.1001 and 29 C.F.R. 1926.1101(g)(8)(iv), which governs the removal of gaskets containing asbestos). Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency maintains effluent standards for asbestos (40 C.F.R. 427.10, et seq.).

    You should contact these agencies to determine the regulations an importer must follow before importing engines with asbestos-containing gaskets.

    Because you ask about importing motor vehicle equipment, I direct your attention to 49 CFR Part 551, "Procedural Rules" (copy enclosed). Section 551.45 requires the actual manufacturer of foreign-manufactured motor vehicle equipment to designate a permanent resident of the U.S. as the manufacturer's agent for service of process in this country. The designation of the agent for the service of process must contain the following six items in order to be valid under S551.45:

    • A certification that the designation is valid in form and binding on the manufacturer under the laws, corporate by-laws, or other requirements governing the making of the designation at the time and place where it is made;
    • The full legal name, principal place of business, and mailing address of the manufacturer;
    • Marks, trade names, or other designations of the origin of any of the manufacturer's products which do not bear its name;
    • A statement that the designation shall remain in effect until withdrawn or replaced by the manufacturer;
    • A declaration of acceptance duly signed by the agent appointed, which may be an individual, a firm, or a U.S. corporation; and
    • The full legal name and address of the designated agent.

    In addition, the designation must be signed by one with authority to appoint the agent, and the signer's name and title should be clearly indicated beneath his or her signature. This designation should be mailed to the address shown in section 551.45(b).

    I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Mr. Dion Casey of my staff at (202) 366-2992.


    Frank Seales, Jr.
    Chief Counsel