Transportation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1. Q: How do I know if a material is hazardous?
A: This is determined by the Department of Transportation in 49 Code of Federal Regulations part 172.101 hazmat table or in 49 CFR 173.115-156. You can look it up or simply ask your Transportation POC or SME for guidance.
2. Q: I’ve looked at the DOT regulations and they seem very complex. What is their basic structure? (i.e., how are they arranged?).
A: Understanding the organization of the regulations contained in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is important in using those regulations. The organization may seem as complex as the text itself but there is a “method to the madness”. The organization is as follows:
Title 49 Transportation
Subtitle B Other Regulations Relating to Transportation Chapter I Research and Special Programs Administration Subchapter C Hazardous Materials Regulations
Parts 171-177 Individual Topics
Subparts Assigned by a letter, example Subpart D Sections Assigned by a number, example Section 101 Paragraph Assigned by a lower case letter in connection with section, example 101(a)
Subparagraph Assigned by a number in connection with paragraph, example 101(a)(2)
Although this system appears to be cumbersome, the divisions are simply a step-by-step procedure. As an example, if the regulations state that a particular material is not subject to the regulations of “this subchapter” (meaning Subchapter C), it means the material is not regulated as a hazardous material and that you may consider that material to not be a hazardous material for transportation purposes.
3. Q: If a material turns out to be “non-hazdous” as per
DOT, how do I transport it?
A: If a material does not meet the definition of a “hazardous material” as per Department of Transportation in 49 Code of Federal Regulations part 172.101 hazmat table or in 49 CFR 173.115-156, there are no restrictions as to the way
that you transport it. However, just because a material is not considered hazardous by DOT doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful to people or the environment. Common sense must be used to assure that the material is properly packaged and handled to prevent injuries/spills. For example: Motor oil
is not considered hazardous under DOT, however if motor oil was spilled on site we are obligated to report it and clean it up as per state and local regulations.
4. Q: I want to transfer a sample between facilities on site are there any special requirements?
A: Yes: You must follow either the “Transfer of Hazardous Material Onsite “ https://sbms.bnl.gov/standard/2x/2x00t011.htm or the “Transfer of Radioactive
Material Onsite” https://sbms.bnl.gov/standard/2z/2z00t011.htm Subject Areas,
depending on the type of material.
5. Q: Do I need to use a government vehicle to transport hazardous material?
A: No: However, the only type of hazardous material that you are allowed to transport are those which are considered to be Materials of Trade (MOT’s). MOT’s have certain quantity limits based on the hazard class of the material, see BNL MOT list https://sbms.bnl.gov/standard/2w/2w02e011.htm. The lab does
recommend that you use a government vehicle when transporting MOT’s that are work related, if however you are driving on to site with your own vehicle and your own mots it’s ok to use your own vehicle. You must use a government vehicle to transfer radiological material unless you have special permission from your Facility Support Representative. Radioactive materials are NOT MOTs for off-site transport.
6. Q: Can I use my personnel vehicle to transport a hazardous material?
A: Yes, but only for MOT’s, a government vehicle is highly recommended for MOT’s related to BNL work. You cannot use a personnel vehicle for transport of radioactive materials unless you have permission from an FSS Representative.
7. Q: I have a material that is on the MOT list but I am not sure that it is packaged safely, what should I do?
A: Check the packaging requirements in the subject area Link and/or ask your POC or SME. https://sbms-authqa.bnl.gov/standard/2x/2x00t011.htm
8. Q: I have 12 gallons of a material that is on the MOT list, but the MOT list only allows 8 gallons, is it still ok just this one time?
A: No: the MOT tables are carefully set up by DOT to assure that the hazards would be controllable in the event of an accident. By increasing the
amount of material emergency responders may be exposed to hazards that they are not prepared for. This would also be a finable offense and you could possibly be put in jail. You are better off having a shipper ship for you or if possible make two trips.
9. Q: I would like to bring some chemicals/sample to Stony Brook, do I need to go through shipping and receiving or can I transport them in my own vehicle?
A: It depends: If the chemicals/samples, their containers, and the quantities qualify as materials of trade (MOTs), see the subject area for transporting hazmat off-site or contact your POC or SME for assistance, you then you can transport the material in your personal vehicle. If any of the chemicals do not qualify as a MOT and they are regulated by DOT as hazardous material (hazmat), then you must have them shipped by a qualified BNL shipper (BNL shipping department). If the chemicals are not regulated by DOT, you may transport them off-site in your own vehicle. Note: A Subject Matter Expert (SME) must make the regulatory determinations.
10. Q: I want to use my bike (or walk) to bring a bottle of acetone to another building, is that OK?
A: Technically transporting a hazardous material in anything other than a motorized vehicle is not covered by DOT. However, you must use some common sense to assure that you do not put yourself or others at risk. For example a glass bottle falling out of a bike basket would likely break if it fell out, while a small can of dry material probably wouldn’t. Packaging is the most significant aspect to safely transporting hazardous material; see your POC or SME for guidance.
11. Q: Can I transport a compressed gas cylinder in my car
A: No. You may not transport a standard compressed gas cylinder (i.e., the 4.5 ft. tall cylinders) in the trunk of your car on-site or off-site. Compressed gas cylinders must be transport in a government vehicle and secured in that vehicle in accordance with OSHA regulations. This includes using a vehicle equipped with a cylinder rack, the main cylinder valve must be tightly closed and the cylinder cap must be properly installed. See your POC or SME for information on transporting “lecture bottles” of compressed gases.
11. Q: How come I can transport a propane cylinder for my barbeque pit in my car, but I can’t transport a compressed gas cylinder of nitrogen from BNL to Stony Brook?
A: Brookhaven National Laboratory as a DOE Facility operates under much more restrictive regulations than those applying to private individuals. Therefore, a material transported by a private individual off site may be exempt for Federal regulations, but may fall under DOE regulations while being transported for laboratory purposes.
Detailed answer: The key to the answer is the definition of “consumer commodity” which means a material that is packaged and distributed in a form intended or suitable for sale through retail sales agencies or instrumentalities for consumption by individuals for purposes of personal care or household use. This term also includes drugs and medicines. The Hazardous Material Transportation Act (HMTA) and its associated
Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) apply only to hazardous materials transportation in commerce. Transportation in “commerce” is any transportation that is or affects interstate or intrastate trade or traffic (in goods and/or services) in furtherance of a commercial enterprise or business. When you purchase your propane tank or cylinder for your barbeque pit, the propane and its cylinder become a consumer commodity for your personal consumption for household use and the transportation of the propane cylinder to your home is not in commerce since that transportation does not affect intrastate trade or traffic in furtherance of a commercial enterprise or business. Since the transport is not in commerce, the HMR do not apply. It should be noted that the Department of Transportation (DOT) as mandated the type of packaging (i.e., container) that the propane must be in for retail sale (i.e., the cylinder) which is why you won’t find propane for use with barbeque pits sold in plastic bottles or aerosol spray cans. It should also be noted that transport of filled propane cylinders or bulk propane from a distributor to a retail outlet is subject to the HMR since the transportation is in commerce. If you ran a business whereby you supplied barbeque services (meal preparation) for social events (e.g., parties, graduations, weddings, etc.), transportation of the propane would be subject to the HMR (possibly as materials of trade depending on quantity transported) since your activity meets the requirements of transportation in commerce.
As for the compressed gas cylinder of nitrogen to Stony Brook, you can transport it to Stony Brook but not in your personal vehicle. The nitrogen cylinder is presumably part of research work conducted in collaboration with BNL and will be consumed during that work. Nitrogen as compressed gas is allowed as a material of trade (MOT) and BNL requires that compressed gas MOTs be transported in a government vehicle with a cylinder rack. The transportation of the cylinder meets the requirements of transportation in commerce and is therefore subject to the HMR as a MOT.
Note: Even if you were the sole user of the cylinder at Stony Brook, the cylinder does not meet the definition of a consumer commodity because it is not for personal care or household use. Also, the transportation of the nitrogen cylinder is in furtherance of a commercial enterprise or business and is therefore in commerce and subject to the HMR. Although BNL is a not for profit institution and therefore not commercial, its business is science; Stony Brook is in the education and science business and the research presumably furthers the business that Stony Brook is in.
12. Q: Can I send a biosample via federal express?
A: Federal Express (and other overnight carriers) have their own rules and regulations. Many hazardous materials can be safely transported via this method but you must declare what your material is and comply with the specific requirements of that carrier.
14. Q: A researcher from overseas is bringing a small (micro curie) sample to BNL, can he carry it in his pocket on the plane?
A: No. Air transport of hazardous materials is subject to the rules of IATA and IAEA and must be packaged, labeled, marked, and manifested accordingly. Hand carrying hazardous materials on board a commercial airliner is not allowed.
15. Q: I have a research instrument that contains a
hazardous material and is pressurized. Can I rent a uhaul
and bring it from another research lab to BNL?
A: It is possible depending on the type and quantity of the material; in the past we have gotten special exemptions from DOT. You must contact your SME or the TSO to determine this. Note: Obtaining an exemption from DOT is not necessarily easy and may require many months to obtain it. Also, DOT has the option of not allowing a proposed exemption if it feels the proposed equivalent safety measures for transport are not adequate.
16. Q: I want to ship an infectious agent to another country
by plane, what are the requirements?
A: Infectious agents and other biohazards are covered under (International Air Transport Association) IATA dangerous goods regulations. As a minimum, all applicable IATA regulations must be met. These include proper packaging, marking, labeling, shipping papers, emergency response information, compliance with individual state (i.e., country) requirements (includes through and destination states), compliance with operator variations (airlines), and compliance with subsidiary hazard regulations if applicable (e.g., shipment is made refrigerated with liquid nitrogen). Depending on what the infectious substance is, quantity, and whether or not it affects animals or humans, an export license may be required which will require DOE and State Department approvals. The definition of an infectious substance is a viable microorganism, or its toxin, that causes or may cause disease in humans or animals. It includes agents listed in 42CFR72.3 of the regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services and any other agent that causes or may cause severe, disabling or fatal disease.
You must follow the subject area for off-site transport of hazardous materials and the shipment must be prepared and tendered by a qualified shipper. Due to the complexity of the required packaging and potential approvals, do not wait until the last minute to request this type of shipment.
17. Q: I have an instrument being shipped from another lab to BNL, it has a small amount of explosive material, and do I need to do anything special?
A: Yes, all explosive material is considered hazardous material under DOT and is strictly regulated. The shipper must comply with the Department of Transportation Regulations and you must comply with the Transportation of Hazardous Material Offsite section
https://sbms.bnl.gov/standard/2w/2w00t011.htm . In addition any addition of
explosive material must be reviewed and approved by the laboratory first, see your ESH Rep for assistance.
18. Q: I plan to ship a small bio sample two times per year do I need to get trained?
A: No: you can get another person to handle the packaging and transport for you that is trained, such as I&SM, or P&PM. However, you can’t do it yourself
if you are not trained.
19. Q: My hazmat employee training expired yesterday and I have a sample that must be taken to NSLS today, it’s time critical what can I do?
A: You must call the TSO for special dispensation, or you can have another qualified person transfer the material for you.
20. Q: I don’t have time to take the hazmat employee
training; can I just have someone else handle my shipping?
A: Yes, as long as they have been trained as a hazmat employee.
21. Q: What should I do if I get into a vehicle accident while I
am transporting a MOT?
A: As with any vehicle accident the first thing you should do is assess the
condition of yourself and others and call for emergency help. Depending on if
you are on or off site the answer varies;
For on site accidents call 2222 or 911 from a lab phone, if the hazardous material
you are transporting is compromised notify the first responders of the hazards of
the material you are transporting and provide them with any MSDS or SAMs in
22. Q: I saw a barrel in the back of a pickup truck on-site,
with a green liquid leaking out the back, do I have any
responsibilities to report it to anyone?
A: Yes, you are required to report it as per the Spill Response Subject Area,
by calling 2222 or 911 from a lab phone.
23. Q: I got conflicting guidance on how to package a
hazardous material, who should I believe?
A: The rules and regulations governing transportation of hazardous
materials are complex and in many cases subject to interpretation. Different
interpretations could result in conflicting guidance. If the answer to your
questions is not in the Subject Areas for the material you are transferring you
should contact a SME or TSO. They are trained in the hazmat regulations and
our internal documentation.
24. Q: Who is the authority having jurisdiction for
A: For offsite it is the Department of Transportation via 49 CFR, for onsite it
is the Transportation Safety Officer. The TSO can also provide you guidance on
the off site requirements.