Posts Tagged ‘hazmat’

Chemical Economic Benefits Have Inherent Chemical Transportation Risks

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author:  David O. Willauer, IEM Transportation & Geospatial Technologies

This week’s Hazmat incident involving a crash between an isobutene tanker and another motor carrier is a reminder of risks involved with daily chemical transportation. Isobutylene (synonym for isobutene) when blended with gasoline is used to make high octane aviation gasoline blends. First responders and emergency managers should be commended for their efforts to close the interstate quickly to avoid providing this highly flammable chemical a chance to find a source to ignite. While the primary hazard is flammability, this chemical also presents toxicity risks.

Crashes involving large trucks carrying hazardous materials are relatively rare. Less than 10 percent of truck shipments include Hazmat as all or part of the cargo load. Less than 5 percent of large truck crashes involve trucks carrying Hazmat. While most motor carrier crashes are rare, fuel tanker crashes represent most of the incidents. A report to FMCSA found that Class 3 Hazmat (flammable liquids) accounted for 64 percent of hazmat crashes where cargo was released during the crash. (more…)

Emerging Ethanol Regulations

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Author: David Willauer, Manager, Transportation & Geospatial Technologies Division, IEM

In my previous blog post (Ethanol: The New HazMat?), it was inaccurate to suggest that ethanol is a completely unregulated chemical. While ethanol is not regulated under the EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) or Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) when used as a fuel (like gasoline), it is still regulated under the EPA “General Duty Clause,” and it is subject to other regulations.

HazMat is short for “hazardous material” which is a term used by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for anything that would be placarded for transport or has a UN/NA number. This also applies to chemicals required by the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) when it applies to an employer.  Ethanol has a UN number of 1170 and is placarded by the DOT for flammability. It is also listed under the National Fire Protection Act (NFPA) with a rating of health (2), fire (3), and reactivity (0) on a scale of 0-4 with 4 being the worst health hazard. Finally, OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) program does establish a 10,000 lb threshold for flammable liquids and gases as defined in 1910.1200(c) of their standard. (more…)

Ethanol: The New HAZMAT?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Author: David Willauer, Manager, Transportation & Geospatial Technologies Division, IEM

Is ethanol considered HazMat? This question continues to be debated as we use increasing amounts of this corn-based product to supplement our nation’s fuel supply. Ethanol is not a regulated chemical. Unlike MTBE, ethanol reportedly does not pollute ground water.

However, ask a firefighter about ethanol and you will get a different answer.  Whether blended with gasoline or not, ethanol is highly flammable and corrosive.

Ethanol is an alcohol-based organic com­pound produced chemically by ethylene conversion (a patented process) or through fermentation of sugars using yeasts. Ethanol (C2H5OH) is flammable, colorless, and odorless. Today we are blending ethanol and gasoline to produce E85 (85% ethanol) or E10 (10% ethanol). E85 requires modifications to engines whereas E10 does not. (more…)