Careful Cargo: What it Takes to Transport Dangerous Goods

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You may be a seasoned vet or a rookie on the open road, but either way you’ll want to take especially proper care while transporting dangerous goods – particularly if that cargo is radioactive.

Although you’ve most likely heard this before, brushing up on what it takes to safely transport hazardous or temperamental materials can save an accident from becoming a disaster. Staying keen to proper transportation techniques not only keeps your company from failing inspections, but also makes for a safer roadway experience for you and fellow drivers.

While your route is confined to the continental United States, your cargo may not be. Considering the diversity of international products, their regulations, and means of transportation, your load may not be the first or last stop.

With that in mind, the last few decades have seen a reasonably good uniformity in international trade and multi-modal transport, provided that jurisdictions follow the guidance set forth by the United Nations.

There are 9 broad classifications of “dangerous goods,” each with their own procedures and risks:

1. Explosives
2. Gases
3. Flammable Liquids
4. Flammable Solids
5. Oxidizing Substances
6. Toxic and infections substances
7. Radioactive material
8. Corrosives
9. Miscellaneous dangerous goods

Headlines and Warheads

Recently, Arkansas 549 was temporarily closed from the public for mysterious nighttime training exercises with heavily armed vehicles.

It has since been revealed that these closings allowed The Office of Secure Transportation within the U.S. Department of Energy to practice moving nuclear arms and warhead components in a “realistic environment.”

Even though no actually nuclear material was used in these drills, it goes to show how important it is to test the methods of transporting dangerous goods of all shapes, sizes, and levels of classification.

Caustic Precautions

In order to transport dangerous goods yourself, you’ll have to secure a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This will cover more than 25 kg of explosives, over 460 L of “material poisonous by inhalation,” as well as bulk shipments of various gases.

If you work for the Federal Government, a state agency, or you’re a HAZMAT employee these requirements are likely excepted. If found to violate any of the regulations set forth by the FMCSA, criminal fines can cost individuals $250,000 per violation, so keeping up to code on a dangerous goods job is of dire importance.

It was found that a majority of dangerous goods incidents arose from the improper labeling, packaging, or handling of materials. In the case that you are involved in an accident while transporting these goods, reviewing what procedures to follow can save lives.


A few main things to remember during transport involving dangerous goods include:

– Don’t use prohibited routes
– Have a plan to remove the goods in case of a vehicle breakdown
– All incidents of spillage or uncontained goods must be reported to the State or Territory Regulator
– A written report must be provided within 21 days of the event
– After every unloading, the type and quantity of the remaining goods must be continually updated
– Never unload without a site receiving person present
– Always ensure you are equipped with spill kits, PPE and fire equipment during unloading

Even if you won’t be transporting nuclear warheads – though it’s not impossibility – you’ll want to be aware of what it takes to transport dangerous goods across the country. Staying up-to-date on all certifications can make life a little less volatile!

Author: Hit The Road Jack

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