TT Talk - New Hazmat rules in the US

We are indebted to the Hazardous Technical Information Services (HTIS) bulletin issued by the Department of Defense in Washington DC for the news that convicted spies, traitors and murderers are no longer allowed to drive vehicles carrying hazardous materials in the USA. While it is unlikely that many people in these categories will be enjoying much freedom at all in the foreseeable future, let alone the freedom to drive vehicles, there is a serious point behind the new rules.

Enacted under the provisions of the Patriot Act, the rules issued by the Transportation Security Administration stem from the post 9/11 realisation that a truckload of hazardous material in the wrong hands could cause major devastation if it were to be detonated in, say, a city centre or a military installation. (The Club has itself voiced similar concerns and urged members to exercise care over the physical security of hazmat consignments as well as their safety.)

Under the new rules, which came into force on June 1, all drivers engaged in the movement of any hazardous materials, from petrol (gasoline) tankers to dangerous chemicals and high explosives, will have to undergo FBI checks for criminal records and be fingerprinted before being granted a permit. These rules apply to anyone requesting a new permit or renewing an expiring one after June 1 and are in addition to the requirements for training in technical and legal issues relating to the safe transport of hazmat. Those with certain criminal convictions, such as those mentioned above, will be absolutely prohibited from obtaining a hazmat permit, while anyone found guilty of a less serious felony will be temporarily disqualified.

Members should of course always exercise caution when entrusting their clients' cargo to hauliers, but with hazmat shipments this recommendation is strengthened. Before asking any haulage company to move a consignment of hazmat in the USA you must check that both the company and the individual drivers concerned all hold the necessary documentation attesting to professional competence, safety skills and liability insurance, and that the drivers have the appropriate permits.