On the list of careers and jobs that people find the most prestigious, transportation of hazardous waste is likely not in the top tier of preferences. Hazardous waste can be dangerous, messy, difficult to move, and burdensome because of an abundance of state statutes and federal codes and regulations, all of which transporters are obligated to comply with to avoid delays. Further, certain wastes must be shipped from Alaska to special landfills and deposit sites in the Lower 48 per federal regulations.
In Alaska-with the sheer size of our state, diversity in construction and resource development industries, and geographic limitations-hazardous waste transportation is a critically important and necessary part of commerce that benefits the environment and inhabitants alike.
Who determines what is hazardous waste and how it should be transported?
The layers of regulatory bureaucracy are complicated in most remediation and hazardous material removal projects, and the transportation of hazardous waste is no exception. Movement of waste defined as "hazardous" occurs by four methods: rail, air, ship, and, most commonly, by vehicle on road and highway systems. For each mode of transportation, state and federal laws apply, government agencies are in place, and program administrators with a cadre of staff oversee the process to enforce compliance and safety protocols.
James Simmons is the Hazardous Materials Program Manager for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Division within the US Department of Transportation. Simmons is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and oversees the service center for the Western Region, which includes Alaska. There are four regional service centers (Denver, Illinois, Georgia, and Maryland) and the headquarters for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Division is in Washington DC.
Simmons' oversight is of the transportation of hazardous materials, within which hazardous waste is a category. Vehicular and road system transportation is the primary means through which hazardous waste is relocated. His program partners with Alaska law enforcement officials and works integrally with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep the transportation process safe and without complication. Simmons noted that the layers of code and regulations are important for the companies working in the hazardous waste fields. 49 CFR Parts 390 to 399 covers commercial driving, while Parts 100 to 177 covers hazardous materials and waste. Cargo tank safety, rollover prevention, spill reporting and prevention, and training are just a few of the subject categories dictating the movement of hazardous waste under regulation which companies must abide by during operations.
Who dares truck in the muck?
Recognizing hazardous materials and waste transportation are inextricably linked to voluminous rules and requirements, it makes sense the companies engaging in such commerce would have their act together.
Emerald Alaska, Inc. handles and transports hazardous waste, materials, and products containing hazardous substances. Emerald operations include chemical waste management, marine and industrial cleaning, waste and source reduction services, automotive fluids recycling, and a variety of industrial service applications.
The logistics of Emerald's waste transport can...