Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for January, 2021

PHMSA 2019 Enforcement Activities

January 26th, 2021 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Associations, DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

Each year, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline of Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) publishes a list of the fines that they have given for violation of the Code of Federal Regulations, CFR49. DOT is becoming a very aggressive regulator, and manufacturers and shippers must be sure they are complying with the rules. Recently, DOT issued its Annual Civil Penalty Report for 2019. The Agency processed a total of 418 penalty actions in that year, resulting in the collection of $2,615,244 in civil penalties.

DOT issued 13 penalties to eight (8) manufacturers and reconditioners of industrial packagings. The highest penalty was for $26,680, and one was a low as $1,213. The average penalty issued was just under $9,500.00.

The most common penalties for the industry were:

  1. Failure to conduct the required hazardous materials training, (particularly function specific training);
  2. Failure to maintain proper training records; and
  3. Failure to maintain proper design type test records.

DOT is on our streets and in our businesses, checking test records and procedures. Take the time to verify that your CFR requirements are being performed and documented.

How the DOT sees it!

January 19th, 2021 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

Understanding the perception of the DOT will help a shipper to comply with classification, package selection, and mode of transportation. Here are 4 items from how the DOT sees it:

  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 per CFR 173.197(e)(5), then the packaging must be capable of containing the hazardous material in the liquid state.

What Is Type A Radioactive Packaging?

January 18th, 2021 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

According to a study from 2017, radioactive material accounts for a very small proportion of all dangerous material shipped each year. In the United States, the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, radioactive material only accounts for 1% of hazardous or dangerous goods shipped in a year. But even a small amount of radioactive material can have a tremendous impact if mishandled. It is therefore crucial to understand and utilize the appropriate, compliant methods and tools for transporting radioactive materials. Tools including Type A radioactive packaging.

Despite making up a seemingly small percentage of shipped goods, radioactive substances are used extensively in a multitude of industries including medicine, agriculture, research and manufacturing, non-destructive testing and minerals exploration. But Type A Radioactive Packaging isn’t a catch-all compliant packaging for radioactive materials. There is also Excepted, Industrial, Type B and Type C radioactive packaging. So what is Type A and when do you use it?

Type A packages are used for the transport of relatively small quantities of radioactive material. But just because they are meant for limited quantities, doesn’t mean they are designed for limited protection. Type A is used for small but mighty amounts of radioactive material. They are designed to mitigate and withstand an accident involving medium-activity materials such as medical or industrial radioisotopes and even some nuclear fuel materials. 

The ability to package nuclear fuel materials is crucial because transport is an integral part of the nuclear fuel cycle. Many nations that mine for nuclear fuel materials such as uranium don’t actually produce nuclear power, so this uranium is regularly being transported across borders by road, rail and ships, and even a small quantity can have a significant impact on the environment if not properly contained.

At Skolnik, we manufacture 7A Type A steel drums which are made of carbon or stainless steel and have been tested according to 7A Type A regulations. Our 7A Type A drums are intended for use as shipping and storage containers for these permissible radioactive materials, however it is the responsibility of the packager/shipper to certify that the package meets all applicable DOT 7A Type A requirements, as they are responsible for the understanding and proper containment of their materials.
For more information on the nuclear fuel cycle and the transport of nuclear materials, we recommend this 2017 in-depth breakdown from the World Nuclear Association.

“Cheers!” The Birth of the Champagne Bottle

January 12th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

At the start of the 16th century, spurred by the invention of the printing press and a push for overseas exploration, wood had become a critical part of everyday European life. It was used to construct homes and buildings, like fuel for heating and glassmaking, and it was the primary raw material for building ships. But by mid-century, Europe faced a serious wood shortage that would change the course of history. Yet despite its terrible cost, the shortage had an ironic silver lining: the birth of the Champagne bottle.

The origin of sparkling wine itself is a tangled web, most of it considered apocryphal or disputed at best. Perhaps the most famous creation myth is attributed to Dom Perignon, the 17th-century Benedictine monk, winemaker, and cellar master of the Abbey of Hautvillers, whose alleged discovery of secondary fermentation in the bottle led him to proclaim, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”

Others assert that the technique of secondary fermentation, now popularly known as “Method Tradtionelle” and associated with Champagne production, was stolen by Perignon from winemakers in southern France. While likely a tall tale, the southern commune Limoux claims to have created sparkling wine in 1531 predating Champagne production by an entire century. Despite his controversial role, famed Champagne house Moët & Chandon still tends a statue of Dom Perignon on its grounds.

While these famous tales and the ubiquity of Champagne have buttressed France’s claim to sparkling wine, one of the most intriguing origin stories comes from an unexpected source. In England, a royal decree led to amazing innovations in glassware that allowed for the creation of bottles capable of withstanding the rigors of carbonation and may have helped propel the creation of Champagne itself.

In 1615, King James I issued a proclamation prohibiting the widespread use of wood in hopes of preserving forests and keeping the Royal Navy afloat. While the wood shortage would impact all of Europe, it affected Britain first. Economic historian John U. Nef suggests that Britain’s rapidly expanding population was to blame for the shortage there. As Nef wrote in a 1977 article for Scientific American, “The population of England and Wales, about three million in the early 1530s, had nearly doubled by the 1690s.”

In a report by the BBC, Nick Higham writes, “Early modern glassmakers used charcoal made from oaks to heat their furnaces, but the navy banned the use of oak for anything other than shipbuilding.” Working around the new restrictions, England’s glassmakers resorted to coal. In an invention born of necessity, they discovered that coal’s ability to burn at higher temperatures produced stronger glass. The newfound technique produced thick, sturdy vessels — ones in which the pressure from carbon dioxide could safely be contained. It was the red-hot dawn of the Champagne bottle.

“While European counterparts were still using wood, the Champagne bottle as we know it was born in the furnaces of England,” Jai Ubhi writes in a 2019 Atlas Obscura article. He continues, “Not only did these new bottles help spawn an embryonic wine industry, but they became status objects, themselves.”

No matter who invented sparkling wine, the ship-building supply shortage and glassmaking innovations of England’s working-class undoubtedly helped spark the still-burning flame of Champagne, igniting the proliferation of a beloved cultural delicacy around the world.