Search

PHMSA Clarifies Criminal Enforcement Procedures

Posted on 5/16/2022 by Roseanne Bottone

Hazardous materials inspectors with US DOT PHMSA may cite shippers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders for two types of regulatory violations: civil and criminal (i.e., “willful”).
 
In the Federal Register on May 11, PHMSA published a Final Rule to clarify that hazardous materials and pipeline inspectors may report actual or possible criminal activity to the US DOT Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Because the rulemaking impacts PHMSA’s internal enforcement procedures only, it was published without public notice or comment.
 
While the rulemaking does not directly impact the regulated community, shippers and other stakeholders should know the difference between a “criminal” or “willful” violation of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and a civil violation.

What is a “Criminal” Hazmat Violation?

A “criminal” or “willful” violation occurs when a person knowingly disregards legal rules and regulations, or acts with indifference, malice, recklessness, or purposeful ignorance of requirements. In other words, the violation is made with intent.
 
The following actions constitute a criminal violation:
  1. To knowingly alter, remove, deface, destroy, or otherwise tamper with any marking, label, placard, or description on a document required by Federal hazardous materials transportation law or regulations.
  2. To knowingly alter, remove, deface, destroy, or otherwise unlawfully tamper with a package, container, motor vehicle, rail car, aircraft, or vessel used to transport hazardous materials.  
  3. To willfully or recklessly violate a requirement of a hazardous material law, regulation, order, special permit, or approval.
The consequences of a criminal violation can include up to five years of incarceration and monetary penalties of $250,000 per incident (for individuals) and $500,000 per incident (for corporations).
 
For criminal violations involving a release of hazardous materials that results in death or injury, the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years (see 49 CFR 107.333).

What is a “Civil” Hazmat Violation?

Civil violations, on the other hand, are committed unintentionally. Those responsible for compliance with US DOT regulations are only human, and we all make mistakes. Civil violations result from errors, unintentional omissions, or an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the regulations.
 
The maximum civil penalty for a hazmat shipping violation is now $89,678 per day, per violation. For violations that result in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property destruction, the penalty can reach $209,249 per day, per violation. These civil penalty amounts increase annually to keep pace with inflation.
 
A list of frequently cited hazmat shipping violations—and the recommended baseline penalty amount for each—can be found in the HMR at 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart D, Appendix A.

Instructor-Led DOT Hazmat Training 

Join a workshop or webinar for live, instructor-led training to ship hazardous materials in full compliance with the latest US and international regulations for ground, air, and vessel shippers. 

The two-day Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT) Workshop comes to San Diego, Denver, Nashville, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston this year,  

Upcoming Webinars

Recurrent Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT)      June 6
Hazmat Air Shipper Certification (IATA) June 7
Hazmat Vessel Shipper Certification (IMDG) June 8
Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT)  June 13–14  
Shipping Lithium Batteries June 28


Prefer to train at your own pace? Choose an interactive, mobile-ready online course to ship hazardous materials, manage hazardous waste, prepare for emergencies, and comply with OSHA workplace safety regulations. Visit Lion.com/Online.

Tags: fines and penalties, hazardous materials regulations, hazmat shipping

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The price was reasonable, the time to complete the course was manageable, and the flexibility the online training allowed made it easy to complete.

Felicia Rutledge

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Course instructor was better prepared and presented better than other trainers. Course manual and references were easier to use as well.

Marty Brownfield

Hazardous Waste Professional

My experience with Lion training, both online and in the classroom, is that they are far better organized and provide a better sequential explanation of the material.

Robert Roose

Manager, Dangerous Goods Transportation

The instructor had knowledge of regulations and understanding of real-world situations. The presentation style was engaging and fostered a positive atmosphere for information sharing.

Linda Arlen

Safety & Environmental Compliance Officer

I had a positive experience utilizing this educational program. It was very informative, convenient, and rewarding from a career perspective.

John Gratacos

Logistics Manager

I was able to present my scenario to the instructor and worked thru the regulations together. In the past, I attended another training firm's classes. Now, I have no intention of leaving Lion!

Diana Joyner

Senior Environmental Engineer

The instructor took a rather drab set of topics and brought them to life with realistic real-life examples.

Tom Berndt

HSE Coordinator

No comparison. Lion has the best RCRA training ever!!

Matt Sabine

Environmental Specialist

This was the 1st instructor that has made the topic actually enjoyable and easy to follow and understand. Far better than the "other" training providers our company has attended!

Lori Hardy

Process & Resource Administrator

The instructor's energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the subject make the class a great learning experience!

Brian Martinez

Warehouse Operator

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Some limited quantity reliefs are reserved for specific modes of transport. Use this guide to identify which reliefs you can capitalize on, and which do not apply to your operations.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.