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What are the Different Types of Hazardous Waste Transportation?

Klaus Strasser
Klaus Strasser

The term hazardous waste (Hazmat) can refer to any type of solid, liquid, or gas that is a potential health risk to either humans, animals or the environment. Hazardous waste transportation can be an important part of making sure these materials do not cause any damage. Transportation methods usually vary according to the type of hazardous waste under consideration. These methods can include the use of trucks, airplanes, railways, or boats.

Proper removal or disposal of hazardous materials usually follows standard regulations. This is done to ensure the safest and most efficient treatment of these materials. In the United States, the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety is the federal body that governs hazardous waste transportation by air, rail, roadway, or water. By law, all transportation of hazardous waste must follow the rules and procedures as stated in these regulations.

Barrels of hazardous waste.
Barrels of hazardous waste.

A significant part of the transportation process is identifying the type of hazardous waste. This helps experts classify what is the best mode of transport. Hazardous material usually is marked accordingly, so that it is clear that the material being transported is dangerous. It also usually is important to choose the correct packaging for the hazardous waste material. The packaging also can determine which type of transportation method is used.

Airplanes may transport hazardous materials.
Airplanes may transport hazardous materials.

When hazardous waste is transported on roadways, trucks are the most common shipping method. Many different types of trucks may be used, such as dump trucks, ISO containers, or tube trailers. Roadways generally are the best option when hazardous material is required to go to a location such as a garbage dump. Since these dumps usually are most easily accessed with motor vehicles, trucks provide an ideal hazardous waste transportation method.

Some hazardous materials also may be carried on airplanes. They may be shipped either airfreight or on commercial flights. To be transported in this way, a strict set of regulations must be met. Air transport can be a good transportation method if the hazardous material needs to arrive at its destination quickly, or if an expert in treating the hazardous material is located at a distance.

An important part of the transportation process is the transporter. Transporters, such as truck drivers, generally are certified professionals. This means that they have completed some training in the handling of hazardous materials and are familiar with its transportation.

Many private companies also provide hazardous waste transportation. These companies usually are accredited organizations with a staff of trained technicians providing the transport. They may offer many different means of transport, such as trucks or airfreight.

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    • Barrels of hazardous waste.
      Barrels of hazardous waste.
    • Airplanes may transport hazardous materials.
      By: Shutterbas
      Airplanes may transport hazardous materials.