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Identifying Sources and Types of Undeclared Hazardous Materials


The shipment of hazardous materials without declaring them as such and without following the federal requirements for their safe packaging and transportation is a recognized concern among carriers and regulators alike. The belief is that a large number of these shipments originate from small businesses and consumers that are returning merchandise. These ‘undeclared’ shipments are comingled with mainstream shipments and carrier personnel are unaware of the special handling and shipping requirements that are appropriate. The volume and reporting rates of these undeclared shipments is currently not well known.


The objective of this project is to develop a better understanding of the types of materials and the types of businesses that are more likely to offer an undeclared shipment for transportation and to estimate the magnitude of the problem.


This project would greatly assist government and industry with understanding the problem of undeclared shipments. Undeclared hazardous materials have been involved in numerous accidents.

Related Research:



The research would include an assessment of the current rate of undeclared shipments and vectors to which they enter the transportation stream. The approaches used to make this assessment would be documented and include estimates on the volume and reporting rates.

A second phase for this research is to engage with individuals and organizations in the key industry segments for undeclared shipments and to identify candidate strategies for reducing the number of these shipments, impediments to their implementation, and suggested approaches for addressing them.


This research could be immediately implemented by all sectors of the hazardous materials industry.


The results of this research could be used by hazardous materials shippers and carriers, transportation planners, analysts, government agencies with hazardous materials transportation oversight responsibilities.

Sponsoring Committee:AT040, Transportation of Hazardous Materials
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Richard Bornhorst, AT040 Chairman
Source Info:This problem statement was developed during the course of Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) Project 10 titled “Current Hazardous Materials Transportation research Future Needs” and was identified as the top priority for hazardous materials transportation research through detailed analysis and selection criteria. The report can be found here: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/hmcrp/hmcrp_w001.pdf
Date Posted:03/14/2016
Date Modified:03/25/2016
Index Terms:Hazardous materials, Shipments, Safety, Regulations,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Freight Transportation
Planning and Forecasting
Safety and Human Factors

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