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Hazmat Packaging Bears Rigorous Testing

Hazmat Packaging Specs

Shippers of Hazardous Materials (or Dangerous Goods) know that the packaging they use has to meet certain specifications and pass standard tests before it can be considered appropriate for the hazardous shipment. Most training classes will explain that the package design must go through various tests to simulate conditions they may encounter during transport.

I started to wonder if users of the packaging really understand the conditions these designs are put through. No, it doesn’t look like this…

… but a few of the tests are quite rigorous! Below are some examples.

  • Drop Test – Drop testing is done on five test samples. The samples are prepared as they are intended to be used by a shipper. Each sample is dropped on a different surface of the package (top, bottom, long side, short side, and corner) from a height between 2.9 and 5.9 feet (0.8 – 1.8 meters), depending on the packing group of the materials that are going to be authorized. Any release of sample material during any of the drops is considered a failure.
  • Stack Test – Stack testing is done on three test samples. The samples are subjected to force that is equivalent to the weight of identical packages stacked to 3 meters. The samples must withstand the weight for 24 hours without leaking or showing any damage or distortion that could reduce Continue Reading…
Air Bag Recall – TDG/HazMat Issues?

Issues Shipping Air Bags

An aspect of updating TDG air bag terminology in the regulations that may have been missed has become relevant in light of the air bag inflator recall that is currently underway. The December 31 revision to the TDGR not only changed the proper shipping name from Air bag inflators, etc.; the provision for “limited quantity” exemption was also reduced from 5 kg to “0”.

This could create issues for automotive companies shipping out to dealers where PI 902 (TP14850 packaging standard) requires the use of UN – standardized PG III containers – subject to possibly using the 1.16 special case exemption; as well as ensuring labelling, documentation, training, etc.

Perhaps more significant is the rumoured intent to have dealers return the potentially defective units removed from vehicles. Not only would this require the same packaging and labelling considerations as above, but dealer staff preparing and shipping out units would require DG training.

Classifying Defective Air Bags

A more serious consideration (given the nature of the reason for the recall currently underway) is the potential issue of whether or not the removed units qualify to ship as UN3268, Safety Devices, Class 9.

Presumably the original design prototypes, met the UN Manual of Tests & Design criteria. However the continuing validity of the initial results to support the “no explosion…fragmentation…, and no projection hazard… “ is probably open to question. Continue Reading…

HMR Aligns with 2009 International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safe Transport of Radioactive Material

PHMSA is making changes to the DOT 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations, aligning with the 2009 IAEA standards involving the safe transportation of radioactive material (Safety Requirements, No. TS-R-1). These changes are set forth to ensure public safety aligns with global regulations regarding classification, packaging and hazard communication of Class 7 material. International regulations for the transport of radioactive material have been published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1961.

These regulations have been widely adopted into national regulations, as well as into modal regulations, such as the 49 CFR, IATA and IMDG. Regulatory control of shipments of radioactive material is independent of the material’s intended application.

The objective of the regulations is to protect people and the environment from the effects of radiation during the transport of radioactive material.

Protection is achieved by:

  • containment of radioactive contents;
  • control of external radiation levels;
  • prevention of criticality; and
  • prevention of damage caused by heat.

The fundamental principle applied to the transport of radioactive material is that the protection comes from the design of the package, regardless of how the material is transported. In the USA one percent of the 300 million packages of hazardous material shipped each year contain radioactive materials. Of this, about 250,000 contain radioactive wastes from US nuclear power plants, and 25 to 100 packages contain used nuclear fuel. DOT (PHMSA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) jointly regulate the safe transportation of Class 7 Continue Reading…

Shipping Something Less Familiar — Bromine

What does one do when the need to ship something outside the realm of “ordinary” arises?

Last month I had to ship a couple of small bottles of bromine for a client. It was more involved than I originally expected.  Before even getting close to the bottle, I wanted to know what was so bad about it. Why is bromine hazardous?

I read through the MSDS to get an idea of what I was about to work with. This shipment was going by ocean so I also had a look at the IMDG code. According to IMDG, it has an extremely irritating odour, is a powerful oxidant, and is highly corrosive to most metals. Also, it is toxic if swallowed, by skin contact or by inhalation. Furthermore, it can cause burns to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. To say the least, it is pretty nasty stuff.

Here is the classification:
UN 1744, BROMINE, CLASS 8(6.1), PG I

As you can see, it is Packing Group I material. I went to IMDG packing instruction P804 to see what was required for packaging and found that it read completely different than the normal P001 and P002 that one frequently sees. This instruction lists four possible ways that this material can be packaged, all varying depending on what type of inner package is used to contain the actual liquid. To give you an idea, Part 1 refers to using Continue Reading…

Re-Use of Shipping Containers

Isn’t it good to know that the shipping industry is playing a role in recycling natural resources? While the thought of reusing shipping containers for emergency housing after a natural disaster caught the imaginings of 8th graders I worked with in a recent “Future City” contest proposal, DeMaria Design has brought the concept into reality. DeMaria’s hybrid design for a Redondo Beach container house uses conventional stick-frame construction combined with eight repurposed steel shipping containers to form a two-story home.

“For me as an architect, the challenge has always been how to give my clients the highest level of design while still keeping the projects on budget,” says Peter DeMaria, one of the country’s first architects to incorporate steel cargo containers into residential designs. His Redondo Beach container house, located in Southern California, won the American Institute of Architecture’s Excellence in Design Innovation Award in 2007.

DeMaria tells me that the shipping containers were purchased locally from a Los Angeles area supplier with consideration given to original fabrication, age, condition, and even the previous cargo shipped within the container.

The containers were retrofitted off-site, before being assembled on-site to help further reduce labor costs during installation.

With the large number of shipping operations located around the New York/New Jersey area, this technique may be a worthy consideration in the re-building of the eastern sea board communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Redondo Continue Reading…

Just what does it take?

May 11, 1996: ValueJet Flight 592 plunges into the Florida Everglades. Cause? Undeclared dangerous goods—specifically oxygen generators.

An Australian dangerous goods inspector recently found an oxygen generator that had travelled by cargo only air. The problem? The oxygen generator had not been properly packed – it was able to roll around the package. And the oxygen generator lacked the proper pin to prevent activation.

An investigation into the airline’s Stores section found many incorrectly packaged oxygen generators, including legacy stores from other airlines. The investigation also found that maintenance staff were not removing in-service oxygen generators correctly and did not have the required tool to insert the pin. In addition, the maintenance staff were re-using the original packaging that was incomplete and were expecting Stores personnel to re-package the oxygen generators. And the Stores personnel were under the impression that the maintenance staff had correctly packaged the oxygen generators and were ready for shipping. Inspection of the oxygen generators in Stores found that 95% of the oxygen generators that had been removed from service were not properly prepared for shipment nor prepared for prevention of unintentional activation.

The airline has since banned the shipping of oxygen generators that have been removed from service. The airline’s procedures and maintenance manuals are being reviewed as they have been found to be inadequate.

The Dangerous Goods Secretariat has been made aware of this Continue Reading…