Transportation Secretary Norman Y Mineta sent to Congress proposed legislation that would strengthen security and safety in the transportation of the nation's hazardous materials. The legislative proposal was submitted October 10.

"We are proposing tough actions to address the serious problem of undeclared or hidden shipments of hazardous materials," Mineta said. "We are also asking for more authority to stop and inspect shipments, important to both security and safety."

The Department of Transportation's proposed legislation would:

*Strengthen DOT inspectors’ authority to inspect packages in transportation;

*Provide those inspectors with authority to stop seriously unsafe transportation;

*Increase the maximum civil penalty for hazardous materials violations from $27,500 to $100,000;

*Expand requirements for training persons involved in the transportation of hazardous materials;

*Strengthen the enforcement authority of DOT’s State enforcement partners;

*Provide the U.S. Postal Service with civil penalty authority to effectively enforce its regulations on mail shipments of hazardous materials;

*Address the current overlap of hazardous materials transportation regulations between DOT and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, except in certain areas; and

*Specifically allow participation by states in a coordinated program of hazardous materials carrier registrations and permits.

“There are more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous material daily in the United States,” said Ellen Engleman, administrator of DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration, which regulates hazardous material transportation safety. “What we are proposing today would strengthen the safety and security of these shipments, while preserving the mobility vital to our economy.”