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Transporting hazardous waste should not be risky business

First responder vehicles at the scene of the incident

Safe disposal of hazardous waste is one of the best things you can do for human health and the environment. However, there can be some serious risks if you don’t take precautions when transporting haz waste to a collection site.

Last November, a pickup truck carrying pails of chlorine and other chemicals caught fire and caused a hazmat response in Snohomish County. The fire department closed the road, asked several businesses to shelter in place, and two patients were transported to the hospital in stable condition.   

Transporting hazardous materials can carry some dangerous (and costly) risks to the driver, passengers, others on the road, and the environment. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to make transporting hazardous materials safer. 

Businesses that regularly need to transport hazardous waste should seek vendors that provide specially outfitted trucks and trained staff to ensure the safe packaging and transportation of hazardous waste.  

Residents and small businesses need to occasionally transport small quantities of hazardous materials in their personal vehicle. You can minimize risks, by following these practices for safe transport:  

  1. Keep products in their original containers whenever possible. 
  2. Make sure all containers are properly labeled. Label products that are not in their original containers. 
  3. Secure products so they won’t tip or leak. Place previously opened containers into an impermeable secondary container, such as a plastic tote bin.
  4. Don’t transport products in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. If possible, place hazardous materials within the vehicle's trunk or cargo bed.
  5. Secure your load for safer roads. Always cover and tie down your load. Please stay in your vehicle while unloading at the Auburn Wastemobile or traveling Wastemobile.
  6. Don’t mix or combine products.
  7. Find the best route. Plan routes and destinations to minimize travel time and distance while transporting hazardous materials.  

If in doubt about how to safely transport a chemical or how to transport larger quantities, call the Haz Waste Help Line at 206-296-4692 for more information. 

Image courtesy of the Edmonds Police Department.

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