Under the authority of RCRA, the USEPA regulates the transportation of hazardous wastes. The USEPA coordinates its transportation ordinances with the requirements of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) and any statutes promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) pursuant to HMTA. The USEPA has set forth these standards applicable to transporters of hazardous wastes in 40 CFR 263. These USEPA standards incorporate and require compliance with the DOT provisions on labeling, marking, placarding, using proper containers, and reporting discharges. The USEPA's adoption of these DOT standards ensures consistency among the requirements as well as avoids establishing conflicting rules. The DOT's regulations are documented in 49 CFR 171-180 and they are implemented by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) within the DOT. In summary, the USEPA is directed by RCRA to establish certain standards for transporters of hazardous materials and to coordinate regulatory activities with the DOT.
According to the USEPA regulations, a transporter must perform the following tasks:
States are authorized to administer and enforce their own hazardous waste programs if their regulations are consistent with and at least as stringent as the federal programs. The USEPA would declare a state policy inconsistent with federal standards if the program unreasonably restricted the free movement of hazardous materials across state lines. HTMA specifically allows DOT to preempt inconsistent state and local requirements.
Under HMTA, Congress has empowered the DOT to promulgate regulations for the transportation and handling of hazardous wastes and "reportable quantities" of hazardous substances. These regulations focus on the transportation of hazardous materials by:
They also deal with the "manufacture, fabrication, marking, maintenance, reconditioning, repairing, or testing of packaging or containers which are represented, marked, certified, or sold for use in such transportation."
Additional regulations applicable to the acceptance and transportation of hazardous materials by motor vehicles are documented in the 49 CFR 177. Among these are that the packages must be secured against movement within the vehicle and that the packages must be braced so as to prevent relative motion between containers. Furthermore, some hazardous materials must not be loaded, transported, or stored together. The "Segregation and Separation Chart of Hazardous Materials" of 49 CFR 177.848 should be followed when loads of different hazardous materials are mixed. All shipments of hazardous materials must be transported without unnecessary delay. RCRA hazardous waste loads which cannot be delivered within forty-eight (48) hours after arrival at their destination must be promptly disposed of by return to the generator or delivered to an alternate facility at the direction of the generator.
Transporters of hazardous wastes must also adhere to all of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations which DOT has adopted under the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984. The Act was passed for the purpose of promoting the safe operation of commercial vehicles and protecting the safety of the drivers of those vehicles. It was also implemented to reaffirm the scope of DOT's authority to regulate safety in this area. The Motor Carrier Safety Act is applicable to all commercial motor vehicles, including those which transport hazardous waste.
This Act specifies more requisites that apply to the transport vehicle and the driver. Among them are concise specifications for vehicle parts and accessories, such as lighting devices, brakes, glazing and windows, fuel systems, tires, and horns. Additional requirements concerning inspection, repair, and maintenance are enumerated. Special driving and parking rules which relate to hazardous materials transportation are also indicated. Standards for drivers identify minimum qualifications, including physical qualifications, background and character profiles, and pertinent examinations. Also included among these rules are testing requirements for alcohol and controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). Other regulations pertaining to drivers comprise of standards for the driving of vehicles, stopping, fueling, the use of lamps, the reporting of accidents, and the monitoring of a driver's hours of service.
In addition to the regulatory duties of the USEPA and DOT, several other agencies conduct non-regulatory functions that deal with the transportation of hazardous materials. These non-regulatory tasks are intended to provide for the safety of the public as well as the environment. The Interstate Commerce Commission investigates interstate carriers to ensure that the services, equipment, and facilities that they furnish will satisfactorily meet all necessary regulations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency supplies the required assistance to state and local governments in response to a hazardous materials emergency. If a discharge of hazardous materials does occur, the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the accident to determine the probable causes.
A crucial first step for transporters of hazardous waste is to properly identify and classify the substances involved. DOT's "Hazardous Materials Tables," which are given in 49 CFR 172, designate the proper shipping names and descriptions for hazardous materials, their hazard classes, identification numbers, and relevant packaging and labeling provisions. The generator or individual who supplies the substance for transportation is responsible for determining its composition and properties as well as for correctly classifying it.
The RSPA has compiled broad hazard classes of hazardous materials in 49 CFR 172-173. The nine basic categories are given below:
2. Gases (flammable, nonflammable, and poisonous gases)
3. Flammable liquids
4. Flammable solids or substances
5. Oxidizing substances (oxidizers and organic peroxides)
6. Poisonous and infectious substances
7. Radioactive substances
9. Miscellaneous dangerous substances
The substances identified in the "Hazardous Materials Table" are assigned to one of three packing groups. Packing Group I represents those materials which pose the greatest hazard, while Packing Group III is for those involving the least risk. Packaging must pass some or all of the following types of tests:
For instance, packaging for materials in Group I must achieve more demanding test results.
The transporters are subject to both DOT and USEPA enforcement of the regulations. Consequently, the DOT and USEPA coordinate their efforts, especially at the regional level, to obtain compliance with both the RCRA and HMTA regulations. Enforcement also depends on the mode of transportation. It is divided among the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and the Coast Guard. RSPA has enforcement authority over intermodal shipments and suppliers of packaging.
Commercial Hazardous Waste Transportation Companies - Company Details
BDC - Special Waste Services
P.O. Box 946
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