Chemical transportation is a means of moving hazardous materials from a source location to an intended destination location. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies two separate forms of transporte de materiales peligrosos: domestic and international. Domestic transportation occurs within the United States and includes the movement of substances across state lines, while international transportation covers moving substances into or out of the country that are transported by air, sea, or rail transport.

Domestic Transportation

Domestic transportation includes the movement of substances across state lines, which is defined as the movement of a hazardous substance in one state in an amount greater than 3.3 pounds per package or a combination of products that total more than 3.3 pounds per package, or as more commonly known as “three and three”. EPA defines a “package” as “‘anything capable of being physically handled by humans’, including ‘packages’ such as barrels, drums, cases, boxes, containers and other similar types of items”. In the case of three and three, a hazardous substance that is shipped in three different packages with a total weight of more than 3.3 pounds would be considered domestic hazardous materials transportation.

Hazardous Materials Transportation

International Transportation

International transportation covers moving substances into or out of the country that are transported by air, sea, or rail transport. International transportation falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government because it is considered a global issue. International hazardous materials transportation is more complex than domestic transportation because it requires more governmental resources to ensure safety and security. There are many environmental, economic, and national security interests that must be accounted for to ensure an efficient and secure international chemical transportation system.

Hazardous Materials

The EPA identifies five different classes of hazardous materials for the purposes of transportation. These include flammable and combustible liquids, compressed gases, corrosives, explosives, and oxidizing materials. NFPA codes are used to classify these materials further into divisions as well as categories. For example, a flammable liquid is classified as Division 1.4 and a category 2 for the purposes of the UN’s (United Nations) ADR (the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air). The EPA also uses the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) subsidiary classifications to further define hazardous materials. The DOT’s Substance Management and Hazardous Materials Regulations label provides a hierarchy of hazard classes and subclasses, as well as different packaging restrictions.

Federal Regulation of Hazardous Materials

The EPA regulates hazardous materials transportation at the Federal level and requires that all hazardous materials be transported in accordance with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as state and local regulations. Hazardous materials transportation is also affected by international treaties signed by the United States, such as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.