Hazardous Goods Transport

What is the transport of hazardous goods?


Transport of hazardous goods (oils, gas, chemical products, radioactive substances) is the transit of substances with high risk to the environment and/or humans, or substances that can damage other materials and goods. The transport solution involves the implementation of adequate measures to ensure their transit in total security. Transportation may be by land, sea, waterways, rail or even by air.


Given the sensitivity and risk factors, hazardous goods need specific precautions to be taken. These include meticulous packaging and conditioning, specific handling operations and which is adapted for their conservation. Awareness-raising and on-going training for staff are indispensable measures for transportation and handling of this category of goods.

The regulations relevant to the transport of hazardous goods do not allow transit via pipelines, such as oil or gas pipelines.


The features of transport of hazardous goods


Hazardous goods are considered as such when they present a character of risk of targeted or global deterioration. In the event of an accident, the transport of dangerous materials can entail the risk of pollution of land and the contamination of groundwater. It also constitutes a health risk for humans and local fauna. The following products make up the main groups of hazardous goods:

  • Inflammable substances;
  • Corrosive products;
  • Radioactive waste and elements;
  • Toxic materials;
  • Infectious agents, such as medical waste;
  • Gases;
  • Explosives….


Examples and practical applications


Regulations applied to the transport of hazardous goods

On both local and international levels, regulations are extremely strict regarding authorization for the transport of hazardous goods in a given territory. Market players must respect several directives according to the mode of employed:

  • ADR transport: transit by road, conformity with the European Accord for Dangerous Goods by Road;
  • RID transport: transit by rail according RID regulations (international carriage of dangerous goods by rail);
  • : the codes relative to sea navigation and packaging are applied;
  • ADN transport: concerns transit via waterways and is governed by the European agreement (international transport of dangerous goods via interieur navigation)
  • Air transport: this transit mode involves the technical security directives elaborated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


Logistics conditions to respect

For ADR transport (road), as with the other modes of transit, logistics must adapt to the nature of the hazardous goods:

  • Use adapted modes of transportation;
  • Ensure packaging is conform with standards and absence of leakages of tanks;
  • Verify labelling, and signaling before all transit operations.

Transport authorization controls are also necessary. The shipper is responsible for cleaning or decontamination in case of degradation of goods or an accident.


Transport of hazardous goods in figures


  • Human errors are the cause of one third of accidents.
  • Hazardous materials are responsible for only one fifth of injuries and deaths. Usually these are a result of other, indirect conditions.
  • by sea and waterways is the most secure mode of transport with only 3 accidents registered in 2017, whilst, 67% of accidents were registered for transits by road.


Regulatory basis


Directive 2008/68/CE of the European parliament and Council

Regulation of 29 May 2009 relative to the transport of hazardous goods by land (called “TMD” decree)

Regulation n° 84-810 of 30 August 1984

Article L. 5331-2 of the Transport Code

Regulation n° 2003-699 of July 2003