Articles Posted in HazMat trucking

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Large truck operations are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and largely identical state trucking safety rules. Sometimes people are surprised that these safety rules no not apply to tractor trailers only. Under 49 CFR 390.5, a commercial motor vehicle is defined to include any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle –

a. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater; or
b. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
c. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
d. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous.
Every state has adopted most portions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for intrastate transportation.
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Federal trucking safety rules continue to expand on commercial truck drivers’ texting or calling while they drive As a trial attorney handling tractor trailer and big rig crash cases throughout Georgia, I see how important this can be in trucking accident cases.

The latest Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published April 29 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of DOT, would prohibit use of a handheld cell phone by drivers moving a quantity of hazardous materials that must be placarded under 49 CFR Part 172 or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73 in intrastate commerce.

This would expand upon rules already proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (also part of DOT). FMCSA barred texting by commercial motor vehicle drivers in a September 2010 final rule. It proposed to restrict the use of hand-held mobile phones in a Dec. 21, 2010,

PHMSA estimates that there are approximately 1,490 intrastate motor carriers that could be affected by this rulemaking.
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The US Department of Transportation has announced a new data warehouse and web portal that enables government agencies to share information about hazardous shipments throughout the country.

The new Hazardous Intelligence Portal will compile data from 26 different sources about hazardous materials shipments by truck, rail, air, pipeline, barge and ship.

Agencies such the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Pipeline &Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and Coast Guard all enter and retrieve information in the system. The program is negotiating agreements to include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Transportation Security Agency.

I anticipate the when HazMat incidents in trucking cause serious injuries, there will be Freedom of Information Act requests for relevant data stored in the Hazardous Intelligence Portal.
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A truck loaded with 32,000 pounds of pressurized hydrofluoric acid overturned in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, at 2:58 AM Saturday morning, prompting evacuation of everyone within a one mile radius.

The truck was operated by Honeywell, the worlds largest producer of hydrofluoric acid. Reportedly, the trucker from Ontario, Canada, left the road when the swerved to avoid a deer.

The acid leak was stoped by noon, and the 5000 evacuees began returning home in the afternoon.

According to the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta, Georgia, hydrogen fluoride is a hazardous chemical compound used mainly for industrial purposes such as etching glass, and is extremely corrosive. It also is an ingredient in high-octane gasoline, refrigerants, aluminum and light bulbs. Contact with concentrated solutions can cause severe burns, and the gas causes respiratory irritation, severe eye damage and pulmonary edema.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations include strict rules on transporation of hazardous substances, require at least $5 million liability insurance coverage of hazmat truckers, and specify limited routes for hazmat trucking.
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As a trucking trial attorney occasionally representing truck drivers who are injured as well as others who are injured by by truckers, I have been fascinated by the stories I hear from HazMat drivers about the dangers they face every day. Those folks ought to qualify for combat pay.

Lisa P. Jackson has been selected as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the upcoming Obama administration. She has served as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and worked for 16 years in the Superfund Program at EPA. She earned the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager credential from the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management.
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A recent truck accidnet on I-20 about 45 miles west of Augusta, Georgia, involved a truck loaded with 24 tons of ammonium nitrate used both as an oxidyzing agent in explosives and as fertilizer, overturned and began leaking. Three people were reported injured.

Ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel is quite a volatile mix. If this spill occurred in a heavily populated area, and a spark was added, it could have had monumentally catastrophic consequences. Ammonium nitrate is a key component of military explosives such as the “daisy cutter” bomb. It was involved in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, as well as several accidental explosions in ports around the world over several generations.

Motor carriers hauling explosives must comply with strict “HazMat” shipping regulations and carry at least $5,000,000 liability insurance under 49 C.F.R.§ §387.303. “HazMat” truck drivers must clear security check by the Department of Homeland Security. However, agricultural ammonium nitrate is exempted from the Hazmat insurance requirements under 49 C.F.R.§ 387.301, even though it was agricultural ammonium nitrate that was used in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

Go figure.
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