IN EXCESS of 800,000 hazardous materials shipments occur annually in the United States, and the overwhelming majority are completed without incident. It is a testimony to one of the safest transportation systems in the world.
Unfortunately, the system isn't perfect. Hazmat transport incidents do occur in the course of a year, sometimes with catastrophic results. In addition, concern has grown that hazardous materials shipments could be used by terrorists as weapons of mass destruction.
Minimizing the impact of a hazmat incident takes skill that starts with extensive planning and training. Good communication is crucial among all of the parties involved in responding to a hazmat transport incident.
This special section was developed to promote better planning, training, and communication among hazardous materials shippers, carriers, and emergency responders — especially urban and rural fire departments. Some valuable resources are described in this special section, which is being published in the January issue of Modern Bulk Transporter and February issue of Fire Chief, both of which are sister publications under the Primedia Business Magazines & Media banner.
Of particular note in this special section is the listing of TransCAER regional, state, and provincial coordinators in the United States and Canada. These individuals from industry, government, and private sector can help coordinate hazmat incident training and planning projects involving shippers, carriers, and fire departments and other first responders. The projects build essential communication bridges. TransCAER coordinators can be a valuable resource for Local Emergency Planning Committees.
Two of the entities profiled in this special section are key players in helping emergency responders meet the challenges of a hazmat incident. Chemtrec manages what is probably the most comprehensive database of material safety data sheets in the world. The Spill Center has developed sophisticated capabilities to help shippers, carriers, and emergency responders manage a hazmat incident.