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Storage and Transport of Hazardous Material

Storage and transport of hazardous material


Hazardous materials consist of numerous types of explosive, corrosive, and poisonous substances. The materials might be used as a reactant in an industrial process, as an additive in water treatment (acids and bases, for example), or as a source of fuel or energy (gasoline and nuclear materials). These materials might also be produced, wasted, or contaminated and thus require management as a hazardous waste . In all cases, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of the chemical so that appropriate containers and labels for storage and transportation are used.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued regulation on how hazardous materials are to be stored, labeled, and transported. The DOT was actually the first to address these issues; the EPA simply adopted many of their regulations, and the agency continues to work closely with the DOT to minimize confusion, conflicts, and redundancy. The DOT was originally given authority to regulate the transportation of hazardous materials in 1966, but it was not until 1975 that the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) was passed, giving the DOT broad authority over all aspects of transporting hazardous materials. In 1980, the EPA adopted the DOT regulations, and the DOT amended their policies to make them more appropriate for hazardous wastes. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is also involved in overseeing the transportation of nuclear materials.

In 1976, the EPA promulgated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which dealt with many hazardous waste management issues, including storage and transportation. RCRA stipulated that the EPA was to adopt transportation regulations that were consistent with the HMTA, but hazardous waste storage and transportation posed some additional problems. For example, it was necessary to define the term "hazardous waste" and to develop a rigorous system to track the waste from generation ("cradle") to ultimate disposal ("grave"). The RCRA and later amendments (Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984) distinguished between small and large quantity generators and established different regulations for them. Large quantity generators (LQG) are prohibited from storing hazardous wastes for more than 90 days. Small quantity generators (SQG) can store wastes for 180 or 270 days, depending upon how far they have to ship the wastes for disposal.

Transportation of hazardous wastes to disposal sites is carefully monitored; this is done by using a form known as a manifest. The manifest contains the name and EPA identification number of the generator, the transporter, and the treatment disposal facility (TSD facility). The manifest also provides a description of the waste and documents each step in the transportation network; generators that have TSD facilities on-site need not prepare a manifest.

The storage and transportation of hazardous materials is closely regulated. Despite these regulations, however, accidents do occur, and research is continuing in the development of better shipping and storage containers, more reliable means and routes for shipments, more accurate risk assessments, and improved systems for accident prevention and remediation of spills.

See also Hazardous Substances Act; Hazardous waste siting; NIMBY (Not In My Backyard); Toxic substance; Toxic Substances Control Act; Toxic use reduction legislation

[Gregory D. Boardman ]


RESOURCES

BOOKS

Freeman, H. M. Standard Handbook of Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1989.

Martin, E. J., and J. H. Johnson. Hazardous Waste Management Engineering. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1987.

Wentz, C. A. Hazardous Waste Management. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989.

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