New Study Highlights HazMat Volume
Dec 1, 1998 12:00 PM
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety just released a new study that estimates the number of hazardous materials shipments in the United States at more than 800,000 per day. Approximately 500,000 daily shipments involve chemicals and allied products. Petroleum accounts for about 300,000, and at least 10,000 shipments involve hazardous and medical wastes.
Somewhere between 360,000 and 420,000 vehicles are in the overall hazardous materials truck fleet. Every ton of hazardous material produced in the United States is shipped, on average, 1.5 times. The estimated number of hazardous materials movements exceeds 1.2 million per day.
Released in October, the report can be downloaded as a PDF file over the Internet at http://hazmat.dot.gov/hmship.htm. The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety is part of the Research and Special Programs Administration, which is under the Department of Transportation.
While only about 43% of all hazardous materials tonnage is transported by truck, this mode accounts for approximately 94% of the individual shipments. In contrast, enormous amounts of hazmat tonnage are carried by rail, pipeline, and water modes. In some markets, they are the only modes that haul hazmat products. Still, these three modes combined handle less than 1% of total shipments.
The new survey updates a 1988 study that set daily hazardous materials shipments at more than 500,000. Shipments are defined as equivalent to deliveries and generally can be distinguished from the number of movements, trip segments, or other measures.
Of the more than 800,000 daily hazardous materials shipments today, approximately 770,000 are hauled by truck. Railroads remain a vital part of the nation's transport sector, according to the report, but rail transport in the United States peaked in 1929.
The report states that it is difficult to accurately determine how many times a chemical product is shipped. However, each ton of petroleum product is shipped about 2.3 times.
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