Thursday, December 7, 2023

5 Environmental Risks of Transporting Dangerous Goods


With more companies and governments transporting hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) and chemicals overseas, authorities are continuously improving their responses to potential accidents. Many may also refer to these substances as dangerous goods. 

Although a study mentioned that HNS accidents have a low likelihood of happening, it still doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

The transportation of goods is necessary to keep our economy running smoothly and efficiently, but some dangers are associated with this mode of transportation. These can occur in maritime accidents, such as when a tanker ship collides with another vessel or when an oil tanker runs aground on rocks or sandbars. 

These accidents can cause environmental damage and severely impact the economy, and they aren’t exclusive to maritime transport, either. Cargo trucks can also run off roadways or collide with vehicles or other objects on land.

Human error can also cause accidents, such as if staff take inadequate safety precautions. 

However, they can also occur when chemical containers break open during transport due to a lack of proper packaging materials or inadequate safety measures taken by shipping companies before loading their products onto vessels destined for ports worldwide.

Knowing more about the risks of transporting dangerous goods can help you take the necessary precautions for a safe trip. 

5 Risks and Challenges of Transporting Dangerous Goods

Understanding the risks associated with transporting dangerous goods allows you to manage the logistics of the operation and protect your drivers much better. Get a glimpse of some risks and challenges you might encounter during transport with the list below.  

  • Probability of accidents

It’s difficult to anticipate accidents, especially those out of your control. These include severe weather conditions and the behavior of other transport vehicles your staff encounters on land or sea. You must consider these situations when preparing your operations for your subsequent transport of dangerous goods. 

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The primary concern of these accidents occurring involves human error. Regardless of how advanced materials and technology have become, human error can still cause a significant issue, which is why there’s an emphasis on taking all the necessary precautions.

For example, while manufacturers construct tankers specifically for dangerous goods, your team should still perform regular checks on them to ensure it’s still up to par. 

  • Environmental risks

Using fossil fuels, such as diesel and gasoline, to power vehicles is one such issue that produces environmental risks. These fuels have harmful emissions that are damaging to the environment. Using alternative fuels, such as electricity or hydrogen fuel cells, would reduce these emissions but does not eliminate them entirely.

Another environmental risk is using unsustainable packaging materials to protect and transport goods. While this doesn’t pose an immediate risk to transporting dangerous goods, it can contribute to environmental degradation in the longer term. These materials contribute to landfills, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Using reusable packaging would reduce this problem but still leave some waste being created by businesses that have no choice but to use disposable items when shipping items in bulk quantities across long distances. If you need to get products from one place to the other, that will cause carbon emissions from gas, so the next best thing you can do is try to minimize that effect, such as taking shorter and better-planned transport routes. 

  • Population exposure

Dangerous goods are usually transported in large quantities, which can cause a significant spill if people do not handle them properly and safely. The point persons transporting the goods must meet all safety regulations to prevent injury or death to those who manage them. 

These regulations include using proper containers marked appropriately and labeled with warnings about what they contain so that everyone involved knows what precautions must be taken if there is an accident or spillage.

Additionally, it’s vital for workers who handle dangerous goods to undergo training about how to handle these materials. It lets them understand proper operating techniques, such as how much force is necessary during transportation and what equipment to use when moving dangerous substances around an area where people live to reduce population exposure.

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Chemicals can easily infect someone, and that person can pass them on to someone else, and it can even cause life-threatening health issues depending on the substances. So, it’s essential to have proper care and transportation when handling these goods.

  • Infrastructure damages

Transportation of dangerous goods can cause infrastructure damage when the team improperly or carelessly handles the items, which causes them to come into contact with another object or person. These occurrences can lead to injuries and even death, resulting in roadblocks, closures, and detours that are detrimental to infrastructure and economies. 

A risk assessment of transporting dangerous goods mentioned that other risks to infrastructure to watch out for are damages to buildings, bridges, and roads. Structural damages can usually occur from collisions or even fiery explosions. 

When moving hazardous materials, it’s essential to fully understand the effects of these substances on the environment and how they can affect your equipment. Reading the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and other documents that come along with any chemical or substance you’re handling is a practical first step to prevent further infrastructure damage.

The MSDS will tell you what damage the substance can do when it comes into contact with water or other chemicals, as well as what kind of precautions to take if there are spills or leaks during transport. 

The most common damage during transportation is corrosion, when certain chemicals react with metals in their packaging or containers, like steel tanks. This type of corrosion causes structural failure in pipelines and other structures, which could lead to a spill or leak, as well as increased costs associated with repairs and replacements.

  • Toll Policy and Emergency Management

A toll policy is a way to charge people for using a particular service or transportation. It is vital to have this in place because it helps pay for the development, maintenance, and safety of the services that the country’s infrastructure provides. 

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Individual users or those responsible for providing goods or services can pay the toll fee. They can also be charged at different levels depending on how much damage they cause to the environment if they crash into an ocean liner.

Another challenge facing the industry today is emergency management. In most cases, an accident involving a dangerous good transported by sea will likely result in an oil spill or environmental damage, such as soil contamination or water pollution. 

These occurrences can lead to major financial losses and health problems for those near these areas where accidents occur.

One Place to the Next

Transporting goods has always been an essential part of international business, and it continues to evolve and change how business owners want to operate. Many years ago, there wasn’t much attention regarding the environment and how companies drastically affected the Earth. But now, sustainability has become mainstream.

Many industry leaders are looking at alternatives to the carbon emissions that ships and other modes of transportation produce. Some have been game-changers, but some are not fool-proof.

Accidents can still occur, whether from a container malfunction or human error. These occurrences can pose serious threats to the environment and human population. Things like oil spills, chemical spills, and fires can easily cause carbon emissions and even kill marine wildlife in the area.

That said, authorities have created several rules and regulations regarding transporting goods. The most important thing is for products to arrive at their destination safely and minimize the possibility of human error and malfunctions, which is where these policies come in.

If something were to happen, there are emergency management tools that will allow people to diffuse the situation carefully, and with the technology available, it should be easier to handle. Any product being transported must be handled with the utmost care, and in the case of dangerous goods, it is even more essential to be cautious.

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