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Immediate Notice of Certain HazMat Incidents per 49 CFR 171.15

Immediate Notice of Certain HazMat Incidents per 49 CFR 171.15

In an earlier article I wrote about the two types of HazMat Incident Reports required by 49 CFR 171.15 & 171.16, respectively:  Immediate (by telephone or online) & Detailed (written report).  The article indicated that the responsibility to report a HazMat Incident will usually fall on the Carrier and not the Shipper of a hazardous material since it is the Carrier that is most likely to be in control (ie. “…in physical possession”) of a hazardous material when in transportation (“transportation” includes loading, unloading and temporary storage).  Therefore, a Carrier of HazMat must be aware of these reporting requirements while a Shipper of HazMat should be aware of them.  In this article I’ll review the conditions that require the Immediate Notice of a hazardous materials incident per 49 CFR 171.15.

It’s worth re-stating here that the purpose of reporting a HazMat Incident – whether it is Immediate or Detailed – is not to summon help in the event of an emergency (that’s what 911 is for) or to inform the applicable authorities of a release of a hazardous substance to the environment (that’s what the reporting requirements of the USEPA are for).  Instead, the purpose of reporting a HazMat Incident is to provide the PHMSA/USDOT with information about HazMat Incidents they can use to improve hazardous material transportation safety.

Pursuant to 49 CFR 171.15, as soon as practical but no later than 12 hours after the occurrence of a HazMat Incident, as described below, each person in physical possession of the hazardous material (usually the Carrier) must notify the National Response Center (NRC) by one of two means:

An Immediate Notice is required whenever any of the following occurs during the course of transportation in commerce (including loading, unloading, and temporary storage):

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  •  A hazardous material directly causes – 
    • A person to be killed;
    • A person to receive an injury requiring admittance to a hospital;
    • The general public to be evacuated for one hour or more;
    • A major transportation artery or facility to be closed or shut down for one hour or more; or
    • The operational flight pattern or routine of an aircraft to be altered;
  • Any incident involving a radioactive material.

If the incident involves an infectious substance, you may notify the Director, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, GA toll free at 800-232-0124.

  • Any incident involving an infectious substance other than a regulated medical waste.
  • A marine pollutant is released to the environment in a quantity –
    • >450 L (119 gallons) for a liquid; or
    • >400 kg (882 pounds) for a solid.
  • Any incident involving a hazardous material that does not require reporting as indicated above, but in the judgment of the person in possession of the hazardous material (again, this will usually be the Carrier), it should be reported.
  • During transportation by aircraft, a battery or battery-powered device is the direct source of any of the following:
    • Fire
    • Violent rupture.
    • Explosion
    • Dangerous evolution of heat.
    • An amount of heat sufficient to be dangerous to packaging or personal safety as evidenced by charring or scorching of packaging or other evidence.

Refer to this article for the information required to be included with an Immediate Report:  The Required Content of an Immediate Report of a HazMat Incident.

Please note, an Immediate Notice to the NRC will also require the submittal of a Written Report to the PHMSA as required by §171.16.

Daniels Training Services


Whether a Shipper or a Carrier, if you or your employees are involved in the transportation of a hazardous material, then you must provide training as mandated by the Hazardous Material Regulations of the PHMSA at 49 CFR 172, Subpart H.  Please contact me for a free consultation on your HazMat Employee training or any question about the transportation of hazardous materials.