From Manufacturing to Transport: The Dangers of Hazardous Materials

Over 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported every year. These materials are inherently dangerous and need to be properly handled at all times, especially during transport. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and roadway incidents involving hazardous materials can have very real and very dangerous consequences.

According to Wyoming Public Media, a crash involving hazardous materials on Interstate 80 left westbound lanes closed between Laramie and Cheyenne.

The truck involved in the crash was carrying hazardous materials, including hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, and flammable materials. Hazmat crews were called to the scene, but their efforts were hindered due to inclement weather.

“The sustained winds were around 30 miles an hour, and the gusts were around 60 miles an hour which hampered the cleanup process,” said Matt Murphy, public relations specialist for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Hazmat crews finished cleaning over the weekend and roads opened back up on Monday. Thankfully, no one was harmed in the crash.

Incidents like this are rare, but they can be extremely dangerous since these hazardous materials can cause immediate damage. Every hazardous material is assigned to one of nine hazard classes, including:

  • Class 1: Explosives — Mass explosive hazards, projection hazards, and fire and minor blast hazards.
  • Class 2: Gases — Flammable gases, nonflammable gases, and toxic gases.
  • Class 3: Flammable and Combustible Liquids — All flammable liquids and combustible liquids.
  • Class 4: Flammable Solids — Spontaneously combustible and dangerous when wet.
  • Class 5: Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides — Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides.
  • Class 6: Toxic Substances and Infectious Substances — Toxic and infectious substances
  • Class 7: Radioactive Materials — Radioactive materials.
  • Class 8: Corrosives —Corrosive liquids and solids.
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials — ID8000 materials, UN3077, UN3082, UN3334, or UN3335 materials.

Even forged steel, which is rated for pressures up to 285 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, can be considered hazardous and extremely dangerous in some instances. Though forged steel fittings and valves aren’t considered hazardous substances, the burning, welding, grinding, sawing, shot blasting, and machining could accumulate in excess of the OSHA recommended Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), potentially causing a hazard.

Additionally, here are the most common hazardous materials to be aware of:

  1. Gasoline — 1,306 incidents.
  2. Chlorine — 48 incidents.
  3. Diesel Fuel — 573 incidents.
  4. Propylene — 15 incidents.
  5. Fireworks — 60 incidents.
  6. Liquefied Petrolium Gas — 473 incidents.
  7. Carbon Dioxide — 1,269 incidents.
  8. Sulfuric Acid — 1,270 incidents.
  9. Argon — 42 incidents.
  10. Propane — 31 incidents.