Hazardous Materials Operations
Phone: (717) 264-2813
What are Hazardous Materials
Hazmat is a regulatory term used by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to refer to any substance or material that poses an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property when transported in commerce. 49 CFR §171.8. Hazmat, also known as “hazardous material” or “dangerous goods” can include, among other things, manufactured items and commercial products. 49 CFR §172.101. Although federal regulations provide an extensive listing of common hazmat items, the person or business offering an item for commercial shipment has the ultimate legal responsibility to determine whether an item qualifies as a hazmat. 49 CFR § 172.200.
The breadth of different types of materials that qualify as hazmat is surprising. For example, hazmat includes:
• certain elemental materials, such as lithium and mercury;
• common chemical compounds, such as butane and methanol;
• most fuels, including gasoline, kerosene, propane and diesel fuel;
• industrial and consumer products, such as aerosols, paints, adhesives, cleaning solutions and pesticides;
• hazardous waste and reportable quantities of CERCLA hazardous substances;
• explosive materials and devices;
• radioactive articles;
• a wide spectrum manufactured articles, such as internal combustion engines, airbag inflators, fuses, first aid kits, and certain plastic molding compounds; and
• edible items, such as flavoring extracts and certain spirits.
According to recent estimates from the United States Department of Transportation, there are approximately 800,000 daily of hazmat in the United States every day.
Hazardous Materials Transportation
The federal government regulates the commercial shipment of hazardous materials. The definition of hazardous material (also known as “hazmat” or “dangerous goods”) is surprisingly broad.
What are Hazardous Materials Regulations
The Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR), promulgated by DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), are the federal regulations governing the commercial transportation of hazmat in interstate, intrastate, and foreign commerce. The HMR covers three general activities: (1) pre-transportation functions; (2) transportation functions; and (3) manufacturing reconditioning and certifying containers and packaging materials used to transport hazardous materials. 49 CFR § 171.1.
Pre-transportation functions are typically performed by the person or business that wants to send a hazmat item from point A to point B, and include:
• determining a material's hazard class;
• selecting the proper packaging;
• packaging the hazmat item;
• marking and labeling the package to indicate that it contains hazardous material;
• preparing shipping papers;
• providing and maintaining emergency response information;
• reviewing all shipping paperwork to confirm compliance with the HMR or international equivalents;
• for a person or business importing hazmat into the U.S., providing the foreign shipper with timely and complete information as to the HMR requirements that will apply to the material in once in the U.S.
• certifying that the hazmat item is in proper condition for transportation in conformance with the HMR;
49 CFR § 171.1(b). Transportation functions are typically performed by the carrier from the time the carrier takes possession of the hazmat package until the hazmat package is delivered to the destination indicated on the shipping paperwork. Transportation functions typically include:
• movement of a hazardous material by motor vehicle, aircraft, rail car or vessel;
• loading the hazardous material for the purpose of movement (e.g., loading a packaged hazardous material onto a aircraft, or segregating a hazardous material package from incompatible cargo in a freight container);
• unloading hazardous material incidental to movement (e.g., unloading a hazmat package from a transport vehicle); and
• storage of a hazardous material incidental to movement.
49 CFR § 171.1(b). Certain functions can be described as either "pre-transportation" or "transportation" functions depending on who performs the function (e.g. loading a hazmat item into a freight container is a transportation function if conducted by, or in the presence of the carrier). Id.