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

Posts Tagged ‘skolnik hazmat’

Undeclared Dangerous Goods Causing Ship Fires

May 31st, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Dangerous goods are never as dangerous as when they are in transit. The shipping of dangerous goods is risky, but when the packagers and shippers do their due diligence and ensure that the packages meet the stringent requirements and regulations set forth by the pertinent governing bodies. One major threat facing shippers of dangerous goods is the threat of fires.

Ship fires have been a leading cause of losses in the shipping industry thus far this year.

Since January, there have been at least a dozen fires reported on vessels, including a deadly fire and series of explosions on a tanker off of Hong Kong. According to Allianz’s Safety and Shipping Review in 2018, fires caused a loss of 112 ships between 2008 and 2017. Without further action, that number will only continue to rise.

Mis-declared or undeclared flammable chemicals are believed to be a recurring cause for a lot of these fires and explosions. Andrew Kinsey at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has been eager to find a solution. According to Kinsey, the key is moving forward with a proactive mindset rather than being reactive as they have been. “We can’t continue to sift through the burnt wreckage and say, ‘That’s what was here.’” says Kinsey. “We have to start to identify it before it even comes through the gate at the terminal much less being stowed on the vessel.”

Kinsey and others are excited at the prospect of using technology to make the changes necessary to prevent ship fires and improve communication between carriers. The idea is that with stronger, more consistent IT standards and better communication between customers and shipping lines, they can prevent mis-declared or undeclared cargo, especially dangerous cargo.

In September, Maersk announced “risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles” to help prevent future issues. But many don’t believe additional regulations are the answer, the real answer is following the rules that are already in place. We strive to stay on top of all industry regulations and restrictions at Skolnik, so we’re inclined to agree. There’s no way to know if the rules currently in place are effective if they aren’t being followed effectively.

PHMSA Issues Final Rule on Shipping Hazardous Materials

October 19th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat, Safety

Earlier this week, The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) , in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued a final rule on shipping hazardous materials. This much anticipated rule aligns the U.S. Hazardous Materials regulations with other current international standards for the air transportation of hazardous materials.

By aligning with international standards, businesses, shippers and civilians alike can be more confident that hazardous materials are being safely and securely transported and the risk of incident is reduced.

Now finalized, the new amendments revise a number of requirements including packaging requirements and information to the pilot-in-command requirements. Several more amendments are in response to petitions for rulemaking submitted by the regulated community.

Other amendments include changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations and vessel stowage requirements.

At Skolnik, we take compliance very seriously. Our hazardous material containers are always manufactured stronger and heavier than industry and regulatory standards require.

This Final Rule is detailed in the Federal Register.

Who is Liable? Hazardous Material Drums and Storage

August 9th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

You can never be too careful when dealing with hazardous waste, especially when discarding it. Businesses whose work produces hazardous waste as a byproduct must store it properly onsite in hazardous waste drums or other certified containers until it can be removed by hazmat professionals. While the waste is onsite at their business it’s their responsibility, and any mishaps would be blamed on them. However, once the waste is finally taken away to a storage site, these businesses remain in a tenuous situation. Despite the fact that the waste is no longer on their property or within their care, these business owners can still be held liable if something happens at the storage site.

As stipulated in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) there are four reasons a business can get in trouble for their hazardous waste:

  1. Hazardous wastes are present at a facility
  2. There is a release, or possibility of a release of these hazardous substances
  3. Response costs have been or will be incurred
  4. The defendant is a liable party

In addition, there are four classes of liable parties:

  1. Current owners and operators of a facility
  2. Past owners and operators of a facility at the time hazardous waste had been disposed
  3. Generators and parties that arranged for the disposal or transport of the hazardous substances
  4.  Transporters of hazardous waste that selected the site where the hazardous substances were brought.

Based on these regulations, businesses who hire others to dispose of their hazardous waste can still be found liable for regulations broken by a completely separate party.

Our advice is to do extensive research about prospective hazmat partners. Look into storage quality, trustworthiness of disposal company, and longevity of both. Find hazardous waste drums that are reliable and durable and a partner company who knows their stuff, so you can feel confident that your materials are being stored properly and you won’t get hit with penalties later.

The History of Hazmat and Dangerous Goods Packaging

May 3rd, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

If you work in the packaging and transportation industries, there’s a good chance that you come across dangerous goods regularly. If you do, then you also come across the term ‘hazmat’. Now, it’s not hard to understand that the two are connected, but what are those connections exactly? What does hazmat have to do with dangerous goods packaging, and just who establishes the rules behind it all?

First, a quick definition. In the United States, the official term for dangerous goods is hazardous materials, which leads to the portmanteau hazmat. Pretty logical, but also easy to take for granted if it’s just another term in the day-to-day sea of acronyms and abbreviations.

Dangerous goods, and in turn hazmat, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses materials that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing, asphyxiating, biohazardous, toxic, pathogenic, or allergenic. Also included are physical conditions such as compressed gases and liquids or hot materials, and all goods containing such materials or chemicals, or that may have other characteristics that render them hazardous in specific circumstances.

Oversimplified: anything that can hurt a human.

 

Hazmat Regulation in The United States

With such an intimidating list of dangers under its purview, you would think that protection from dangerous goods has been a high priority for our government as long as possible. But, the DOT, EPA and OSHA, three of the most crucial agencies for regulating the safe handling of hazardous materials in the U.S. weren’t even formed until the late 1960s and 1970s.

Then, it was only in 2004 that the Department of Transportation created the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is the agency directly in charge of developing and enforcing regulations in relation to hazmat transportation. Previously, PHMSA’s hazmat and pipeline safety programs were housed within the Transportation Department’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA).

Hazmat Regulation Abroad

Regulators at the global level were a little faster to act. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)’s publication of the first version of The UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods occurred in 1956. While it isn’t obligatory or legally binding on individual countries, this is the guiding document when it comes the establishing procedures regarding hazmat shipping. For example, all Skolnik barrels that bear a UN certification have been produced to the standards established by the most current version of these recommendations.   

The other crucial contribution to hazmat handling that the UN provides is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, developed in 1992. This is the set of rules that standardized the labeling of hazmat across borders, and is why we use the color coded diamond-shaped pictograms to designate which hazards are in what package.

Further Hazmat Regulatory Bodies

Along with these major organizations, there are plenty of smaller, more specific groups that have their eyes set on specific topics, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Maritime Organization and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail. These are just some of the groups who, as each name suggests, focus on their individual priorities and establish rules and regulations that are adopted, inspire and influence how we handle hazmat here in the states and abroad.


Whether you interact with dangerous goods daily or once in a blue moon, it’s important to not only be able to handle the immediate task of safely storing and transporting these goods, but to know where they fit in larger scheme. If you don’t know why you’re labeling a barrel as hazardous, then it’s easy to make a mistake, and there is little room for error when dealing with hazmat storage and transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for any question you may have regarding hazmat and dangerous goods packaging. All of these organizations have multiple resources you can explore, and if it’s barrel-related, chances are we here at Skolnik can help out too.

PHMSA Releases 23 Million in Grants for Hazardous Waste Transportation Training

October 18th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation’s Pipline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) announced that they are issuing a series of hazardous materials training grants, totaling $23,870,045. The three separate grants are part of PHSMA’s larger initiative to improve the transportation of these dangerous materials.

The largest of the three, totaling to roughly 20 million, will be disbursed via Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants across all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and Native American tribes, enhancing the abilities of emergency response personnel to protect themselves and the public when responding to hazardous material transportation related incidents.

An additional 2.4 million will be put into Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grants. These will provide support to non-profit organizations such as the Center for Rural Development and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The funds will be used to train volunteers and remote emergency responders to safely respond to rail accidents involving crude oil and ethanol products.

The last 1 million will be issued to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance as part of its Community Safety Training grant program. This will allow community organizations to help train local and state personnel responsible for enforcing safe hazardous material transportation.

Hazardous materials have the ability to make an already dangerous situation that much more lethal. With these grants, responders across a broad spectrum of organizations will better be able to respond to the challenges, stay safe and in turn keep those around them safe.

For the full report from PHMSA, including a chart breaking down the allocation of the HMEP grants by state, click here.

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.