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New Highway Bill Raises Civil Penalties for Hazmat Violations

Posted on 7/9/2012 by Lion Staff

On Friday, President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21stCentury (MAP-21) highway bill.  This bill made significant changes to the hazmat portions of the current highway law, including increasing civil penalties for hazmat violations.
The maximum civil penalty for a standard hazmat violation rose from $50,000 per day/per violation to $75,000 per day/per violation.  The penalty for a violation that causes death, significant injury, or property damage rose from $100,000 per day/per violation to $175,000 per day/per violation.
MAP-21 also includes a provision that authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to penalize persons or businesses that “obstruct” hazmat inspections.  In this rule, “obstruct” is defined as “actions that were known, or reasonably should have been known, to prevent, hinder, or impede an investigation.”
Lastly, the DOT now has the authority to shut down any business that fails to pay its penalties (or set up a payment plan) within 90 days. 
In the MAP-21 law, Congress also laid out instructions for the DOT to answer many of the public comments raised regarding its Enhanced Enforcement Authority, also known as the “package-open” rule.  We’ll have more on exactly what instructions Congress gave the DOT in next week’s installment of LionBlog, so stay tuned.
You will find the full text of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century highway bill here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr4348enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr4348enr.pdf

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, new rules

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