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US Hazmat truckers face stiff rules

By David Reed, UT EditorDuluth, Georgia-Drivers of trucks carrying hazardous materials in the US will face a wide range of security checks when renewing their licences after 31 May, warns The Hanson Group, llc. And this, in turn, “will cause a significant reduction in the already limited number of qualified drivers,” the firm added in a 4 April statement.Since trucks carry 94 percent of the 800 000 shipments of hazardous materials in the United States every day, the situation could become serious, Hanson suggests, pointing out that over 60 000 materials are considered hazardous, from nail polish to nuclear waste, though gasoline and corrosives are the most common. Although not directly mentioned, MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), TDI (toluene diisocyanate), and other widely used polyurethane raw materials are also subject to hazardous materials regulations in the US.The problem stems from legislation introduced by the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which came into effect 31 Jan and requires fingerprint-based background checks for individuals applying for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) for a commercial driver’s licence. Applicants who are determined by TSA to pose a security threat will be denied a HAZMAT endorsement, the Hanson statement added.Driver will be disqualified from holding an HME if they have been convicted within the past seven years, released from prison within the past five years, or are wanted or under indictment for any of a wide range of crimes ranging from arson, assault with intent to murder and kidnapping through rape or aggravated sexual abuse and robbery; to distribution, possession, or importation of controlled substances or explosive devices, firearms, or other weapons.They will be permanently disqualified from holding an HME if they were ever convicted of crimes such as murder, terrorism, and espionage, as well as severe transportation security incidents. Disqualification also results if drivers are convicted of having improperly transported a hazardous material, the Hanson statement says, adding that this does not include minor infractions of these regulations.Shippers and carriers are concerned that the new rule will cause a significant reduction in the already limited number of qualified drivers, Hanson claims. Most, however, have been unwilling to elaborate on specific actions they are taking in order to work around this new requirement, the firm says. “We do know, however, that many drivers are rushing to renew their licenses prior to the 31 May deadline in order to circumvent the requirement at least for the short term,” Hanson concluded.”



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