The Last 10 Years: Undeclared Hazmat Shipments
Approximately 1,500 transportation incidents involving undeclared hazardous materials occur each year. These incidents can be a big problem for transportation workers, emergency responders, and regular people who may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
PHMSA reported that, from 2013 to 2023, incidents involving undeclared hazmat primarily included aerosols, lithium batteries, and paint or paint materials (percent of 11,430 total incidents pictured to the right).
Real Incidents Involving Undeclared Hazardous Materials
In May 2017:
A package handler was handling a package when it exploded, injuring the left shin. The package contained no packing material, no hazard indicators, and no dividers between the eight aerosol cans and products packed with them. The undeclared aerosols turned out to be UN 1950—a Division 2.1 Flammable gas. The employee was fortunate not to be hospitalized.
In April 2020:
A tractor-trailer carrying drums of undeclared lithium batteries (UN 3480, Class 9) began to smoke and bulge. Two of the drums had caught fire, prompting an emergency response that evacuated a local industrial business area and closed State Route 58 in California for the duration of the response.
This incident contributed to the injury of two employees and cost the company $500 in carrier damage, $2,056 in response cost, and $36,000 in remediation/cleanup cost.
In February 2014:
A driver in Miami, FL picked up a package that began to leak vapor, which affected him enough to call an ambulance. He went to the hospital but was not admitted. The inner packaging reportedly failed, and the cause of failure was noted as improper preparation for transportation.
This incident caused the evacuation of 4 people: the driver and 3 members of the public. The package contained 55 lbs. of an undeclared ammonia solution (UN 2672)—a Class 8, PG III Corrosive.
The Agency provided this infographic with convenient visualizations of undeclared hazmat incidents by commodity and location.
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