Frequent Questions

What is considered immediate response for transporters responding to a spill of hazardous waste?

There is no Federal definition of immediate action or immediate response (Memo, Porter to Hansen; September 29, 1986 (RCRA Online #12748)). In the event of a discharge of hazardous waste during transportation, the transporter must take appropriate immediate action to protect human health and the environment, such as notifying local authorities or diking the discharge area (40 CFR §263.30(a)).

An air, rail, highway, or water transporter who has discharged hazardous waste must:

- give notice, if required by 49 CFR §171.15, to the National Response Center (800-424-8802 or 202-426-2675)
- report in writing as required by 49 CFR 171.16 to the Director, Office of Hazardous Materials Regulations, Materials Transportation Bureau, Department of Transportation, Washington, DC 20590 (40 CFR §263.30(c)).

In addition, a water (bulk shipment) transporter who has discharged hazardous waste must give the same notice as required by 33 CFR §153.203 for oil and hazardous substances (40 CFR §263.30(d)).

Finally, a transporter must clean up any hazardous waste discharge that occurs during transportation or take such action as may be required or approved by Federal, state, or local officials so that the hazardous waste discharge no longer presents a hazard to human health or the environment (§263.31).

These memoranda are available in the at the RCRA Online database.

For additional information on the regulations of 49 CFR Part 171, we suggest you contact the DOT Hazardous Materials Information Center (HMIC) at (800) 467-4922 or Exit EPA.

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