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Archive for the ‘HazMat’ Category

FAA Reconsiders Laptops in Luggage

September 19th, 2017 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

As a result of recent security measures which involved the potential of prohibiting the carriage of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) larger than a cellphone or smartphone in the cabin on flights from certain points of departure into the U.S.; one option was for passengers to place their large PEDs into their checked baggage if they wanted to transport them on these flights. This option would have created an unexpected increase in the number of lithium battery-powered devices in the cargo compartment of passenger aircraft. It was noted that there was little research data available on the behavior, effects and risks associated with PEDs being placed in a passenger’s checked baggage. Except for loose batteries and e-cigarettes in checked baggage, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not have significant incident data on passenger PEDs in checked baggage. To address the lack of sufficient research data on the behavior and effects of a large number of PEDs placed in the cargo hold on passenger aircraft, the Fire Safety Branch at the FAA Technical Center conducted tests to assess the potential hazards from the carriage of laptop computers and other large PEDs in checked baggage. Included was research to identify possible risk mitigation options. The objectives of the testing were to: 1) Determine the relative effectiveness of the cargo compartment Halon 1301 fire suppression system against the potential fire scenarios involving devices containing lithium batteries now carried as checked baggage; and 2) Determine whether there are potential mitigation options, such as the use of enhanced packaging to contain flames and gas from spreading outside a package.

The specific tests reflect cargo compartment loading procedures in use by air carriers affected by the security policy. Discussion: The FAA Tech Center has conducted tests utilizing fully charged laptop computers inside suitcases. The suitcases were all soft sided but varied in the density and types of items inside, as well as, the construction of the outer case. A heater was placed against a lithium ion cell in the battery of a laptop to force it into thermal runaway. The results of this test condition yielded the most troubling results. As a result of this, it was concluded that if a PED is packed in a suitcase with permitted hazardous materials and a thermal runaway event occurs, there is the potential for the resulting event to exceed the capabilities of the airplane to cope with it. Although most consumer PEDs (including but not limited to cell phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDA) devices, electronic games, tablets, laptop computers, cameras, camcorders, watches, calculators) containing batteries are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, the FAA believes that there is a very low frequency of lithium battery-powered devices being voluntarily transported in checked baggage. The FAA’s belief is largely based on the understanding that most passengers prefer keeping their devices on their persons to use, during flight or to prevent loss or theft in transit. With regard to the safety risk posed by PEDs, the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (the Technical Instructions) recommend that these devices be carried in the cabin on the basis that, should a PED initiate a fire, the cabin crew can expeditiously identify the incident, take appropriate firefighting action, and monitor the device for possible re-ignition.

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The DOD Addresses its Hazmat Transportation Issues

August 31st, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

According to a recent study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DOD) has started efforts to correct the root causes that have caused the improper documentation and packaging of HAZMAT in the U.S. in past years. While this is certainly a positive and promising development, and the DOD is taking GAO’s advice on the issue, it is too early to tell how effective any changes will be.

Back in 2014, the GAO found such inefficiencies as improper documentation and packaging of hazardous materials, which lead to delays of about 27 percent more hazardous materials received at major domestic military airports than in the past 5 years. Additionally, the DOD was determining which carriers were eligible to transport its most-sensitive HAZMAT shipments using a safety score that lacked sufficient. In a 2015 report, the DOD studied these issues, agreed with GAO, and found that the main issues in their transportation practices were documentation-related issues, as well as human error such as inadequate reporting.

At the time, the GAO had also asked the DOD to examine their use of Transportation Protective Services (TPS) for shipments that could have used less costly methods. The DOD claimed they utilized TPS infrequently on shipments for which they weren’t required; only 518 of more than 31,000 HAZMAT shipments. However, in their report, GAO noted that the DOD didn’t disclose what led them to use TPS, and claimed that the DOD could have saved $126,000 of unnecessary costs.

While the DOD and GAO agree on what corrective actions to take, such as establishing ways to prevent future unnecessary uses of TPS, the gears of bureaucracy are slow turning. Most actions were not implemented until late in 2016, and their efficacy will not be assessable until late 2017.

Considering that the DOD contracts about 90% of their HAZMAT shipments out to commercial carriers, the final assessment of how well these changes work will certainly have an impact on any future business with the Department of Defense.

A DOT Quiz — TRUE or FALSE!

August 15th, 2017 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Take a few minutes and answer True or False to the following statements about compliance with the DOT regulations:

  1. The transportation of hazardous materials exclusively on private property, to which signs, gates and guard stations prevent public access, is not subject to the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
  2. If a carrier is present during the time of unloading and the motive power is still attached to the transport vehicle when an incident occurs, the carrier is responsible for submitting an incident report per CFR 171.16. If the carrier has dropped the transport vehicle and the motive power is removed from the premises, the carrier obligation is fulfilled and transportation is ended; thus, the hazardous materials incident reporting would not apply.
  3. Employees subject to hazardous materials training must be tested for general awareness/familiarization, function specific and safety training in accordance with CFR 172.704. In addition, recurrent training must cover these three primary areas of knowledge. Therefore, an employee must successfully pass initial hazardous materials training in addition to recurrent training. Recurrent training cannot be waived.
  4. If a hazardous material at ambient temperatures meets the definition of a solid under CFR 171.8 when packaged and offered for transportation, it is a solid material. However, if the solid will likely encounter temperatures in transportation that may cause the material to become a liquid, then the packaging must be capable of containing the hazardous material in the liquid state.

The UN System for Dangerous Goods Packaging

August 10th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety

Skolnik steel barrels are all UN tested for their contents/purpose. If a manufacturer or shipper fails to comply with UN standards, they could face hefty fines, litigation and more. It is always important for manufacturers to adhere to UN regulations, but for dangerous goods packaging the stakes are even higher because, in addition to a fine, failure to comply with UN standards for dangerous goods packaging could lead to a spill, disaster or contamination. But what does this mean? How does the United Nations affect packaging regulations?

The UN system for dangerous goods packaging is universally used and recognized. The system is used to classify, package, mark and label dangerous goods to facilitate their safe transport. All national and international regulations governing road, rail, sea and air transport are based on the United Nations’ system. With all manufacturers, suppliers and transport professionals following a single set of rules, the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.

The regulations dictate a minimum standard of performance. These performance standards are based on the intended contents of a package. Packages must exceed these standards before they can be authorized to contain and transport dangerous goods. The UN system starts with a sort of checklist of general criteria and specifications that the design of packages must meet. The packages then undergo rigorous physical testing before receiving UN certification.

At Skolnik, we pride ourselves in consistently engineering and manufacturing steel drums that exceed the UN certification criteria for dangerous goods and other uses. Our industrial packaging is designed and tested to be thicker, heavier and stronger than the industry standard, and our dangerous goods packaging is no different.