Hazardous materials can lead in truck accidents or when semi drivers lose control, causing possible tipping or rollover events. The discharge of a hazardous substance can not only harm the driver and others involved in an accident, but also those in immediate proximity and potentially a larger geographic area, depending on the nature of the material and size of the release.
Substantial harm can also befall the surrounding natural environment, including the food and water supply.
Not surprisingly, federal and state governments tightly regulate the transport of hazmat, and vehicle inspection and enforcement of hazmat-transport laws falls in part on state law enforcement officials.
In New Jersey, the officers allowed by law to inspect these loads and enforce hazmat laws are those of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police and particular people within NJDOT and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
A bill is moving through the New Jersey Legislature that would expand that authority to include officers of the Delaware River Port Authority. Considering the environmental sensitivity of this important water route and the population density in riverside cities, this seems like a wise move.
Pennsylvania river port authority officers on the other side of the river already have this authority.
The bill passed the state Senate and was reported out of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee with amendments on Sept. 24. Safety advocates, trucking companies and government officials are likely to see this legislation become law, considering that the Senate vote was 30-7.
Source: Land Line Magazine, “New Jersey bills cover hazmat, truck inspections,” Keith Goble, September 5, 2012