US DOT beefing up hazmat rules

by Canadian Shipper

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta has sent to Congress proposed legislation that would strengthen security and safety in the transportation of the nation’s hazardous materials.

“We are proposing tough actions to address the serious problem of undeclared or hidden shipments of hazardous materials. We are also asking for more authority to stop and inspect shipments, important to both security and safety,” said Secretary Norman Mineta.

The proposed legislation would strengthen DOT inspectors’ authority to inspect packages in transportation, provide those inspectors with authority to stop seriously unsafe transportation, increase the maximum civil penalty for hazardous materials violations from $27,500 to $100,000, expand requirements for training persons involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, strengthen the enforcement authority of DOT’s State enforcement partners, and provide the U.S. Postal Service with civil penalty authority to effectively enforce its regulations on mail shipments of hazardous materials.

The government will also address what it considers a current overlap of hazardous materials transportation regulations between DOT and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, except in certain areas; and specifically allow participation by states in a coordinated program of hazardous material carrier registrations and permits.

“There are more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous material daily in the United States. What we are proposing today would strengthen the safety and security of these shipments, while preserving the mobility vital to our economy,” said Ellen Engleman, administrator of DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration, which regulates hazardous material transportation safety.

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