DOT Aide Upholds Plan For Hazard Identification

DOT Aide Upholds Plan For Hazard Identification

HI placard for hazardous materials carriers is shown by Alan Roberts of the DOT.

Staff photo

Reasons why the United States Department of Transportation favors its proposed HI system for identifying hazardous materials were outlined at Symposium II conducted at Jersey City, N.J., State College.

Alan Roberts, director of the DOT Division of Hazardous Materials, explained at the symposium on hazardous cargo transportation last January 22 that a marking system for hazardous materials must be precise and understandable or it won’t stand up in court. He criticized the National Fire Protection Association’s 704M marking system as lacking in guidelines for a shipper marking a cargo and stated that under this system, all commodities would have to be listed and graded.

As an example, he cited barium nitrate and barium peroxide, which he said would carry the same numerals under the 704M system because they have the same fire, explosion and life hazards. However, a flooding amount of water is recommended during the early stages of a barium nitrate fire, but the advice is to use no water on burning barium peroxide.

Two-digit system

The HI system is basically a twodigit system. The numbers on any one of eight different placards or labels will refer to a specific information card in a booklet to be published by the DOT when the system is adopted.

Roberts also said that under new DOT regulations, trucks carrying 50 or more pounds of Class A or B explosives must be attended at all times by either the driver or another qualified person. Also, drivers must stop and check tires every 2 hours or 100 miles.

He added that new DOT regulations have ended labeling exemptions for partial loads and that all gas cylinders must be marked.

Coordination needed

The need to plan for emergencies was stressed by Arthur Spiegelman, vice president and manager of the Engineering and Safety Department of the Insurance Services Office. He cited the need to coordinate fire fighting, traffic control, communications and evacuation during an emergency.

He deplored the lack of the insulated double shell in newer railroad tank cars carrying propane and noted that these tank cars have increased in capacity from 8000 gallons to 30,000 gallons or more.

A plea for a hazardous materials marking system that will provide information on the scene of an emergency was made by Donald M. O’Brien, general manager of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He explained that the IAFC had twice passed resolutions urging the adoption of the 704M system. However, O’Brien said, the IAFC “isn’t adamant” on this stand but does believe that “a marking system for hazardous cargo is necessary.”

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