Hazardous Materials Incident Data Now Available

July 03, 2003

According to DOT, human error is the probable cause of most transportation incidents and associated consequences involving the release of hazardous materials. Effective training by Environmental Resource Center is one of the best methods to prevent human errors. Another way to avoid accidents is to review the causes of and lessons learned from other accidents. The DOT has made available an excellent summary of incident summaries in which you can review the causes and impacts of recent accidents. Complete data is available for 2002 and partial data is available for 2003.

Hazardous Waste TSD to Pay $225,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations

Solvent Recovery Corporation (SRC), which owns and operates a commercial hazardous waste facility in Kansas City, will pay a civil penalty of $225,000 to resolve allegations of improper handling, storage and transportation of hazardous waste. The SRC facility handles hazardous waste from other companies.

Inspections by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources uncovered storage of hazardous waste in unpermitted areas and quantities, and failure to provide adequate and proper secondary containment systems and spill control equipment.

The court order from the Jackson County Circuit Court also resolves any potential violations relating to a July 1997 incident in which a container of hazardous waste caught fire in St. Charles County while being transported. The order also states that if SRC does not comply with the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law over the next three years, it could face additional penalties of up to $125,000.

Database of Mercury Containing Devices

It is well known that thermometers, thermostats, fluorescent lamps, and some batteries contain mercury. However, there are many other devices that are manufactured with mercury. When it comes to disposal of these devices, it is essential to know which contain mercury, so they can be properly managed as hazardous waste or universal waste. Did you know that some valves, switches, LCD displays, and plasma displays contain mercury? The Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association has produced a database of mercury-containing devices, which can be found here. The California DTSC has identified many other products that contain mercury and has plans to regulate them. For details, see DTSC's web site. The EPA has proposed to add many mercury-containing devices to the list of universal waste. Keep up-to-date on the status of the growing list of universal waste and how to manage them at any of these seminars.

FMCSA to Conduct Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Field Operational Test

DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the beginning of its Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Field Operational Test. This test will measure the effectiveness of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) safety and security technologies for safeguarding hazardous materials being transported by trucks.

"We must build on our continuous efforts to ensure the security of the more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials hauled on U.S. highways every day," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "This operational test will help improve security and will help spur innovative technologies for safeguarding hazardous materials in the future."

The field operational test will quantify the costs and benefits associated with transportation security technologies. FMCSA believes this information will assist companies in their decisions to deploy technology applications that are most appropriate for their businesses.

A prototype test is scheduled later this month, with full-scale testing to begin in late August. The field operational test, managed by FMCSA and largely funded by DOT's ITS Program, will be completed in the latter part of 2004.

The test will involve 100 trucks equipped with a variety of existing technologies. The technologies will be packaged in several different cost tiers, and will be tested across four different transportation scenarios. The project will test the capabilities of technologies such as:

  • Driver verification using password logins, fingerprint biometrics and smart cards;
  • Vehicle and load tracking, using satellites and other wireless systems;
  • Off-route and stolen vehicle alerts, using geo-fencing;
  • Cargo tampering alerts, using electronic seals;
  • Driver distress alerts, using driver panic buttons; and
  • Remote vehicle disabling in instances of known terrorist attacks.

Carriers and shippers that have expressed their intent to participate in the test include BP Chemicals, Cox Petroleum, Distribution Technologies, Dupre Transport, Dyno Nobel Transportation, ExxonMobil, GE Betz, Hercules Incorporated, Orica USA Inc., Quality Carriers, Roadway Express, Inc., Roeder Cartage Co., Inc., R&R Trucking, The Dow Chemical Company, and Transport Service Co.

The ITS field operational test deployment team is led by the Battelle Memorial Institute. Deployment team members include QUALCOMM, Inc., the American Transportation Research Institute, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, TotalSecurity.US, Savi Technology and Information Systems Support.

Participating state agencies include the California Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety, New York State Police and the New York State DOT. Original equipment and engine manufacturers also involved in the field operational test include Caterpillar Inc., Cummins Inc., Detroit Diesel Corporation, Freightliner Truck Group, and International Truck and Engine Corporation.

EPA Increases Civil Penalties for Environmental Violations

Under proposed regulations, EPA will be able to assess increased maximum civil penalties against polluters caught violating the nation's environmental laws. The increase is almost 15 percent.

EPA's Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule will raise the statutory maximum civil penalty to reflect inflation, as determined by the Consumer Price Index. The rule is required by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 and reflects the U.S. Government Accounting Office's recommendations. To keep pace with inflation, the Debt Collection Improvement Act requires federal agencies to periodically review and adjust statutory maximum civil penalties.

Once final, the proposal will raise the maximum civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other environmental statutes from $27,500 to $32,500. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on July 3, 2003, for a 30-day comment period. The proposal can be seen in the Federal Register at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-GENERAL/2003/July/Day-03/g16925.htm.