HAZMAT Civil Penalties

U.S. DOT Increases Maximum Civil Penalties for HAZMAT Violations

Executive Summary – The U.S. DOT issued a final rule significantly increasing the maximum and minimum civil penalties for knowing violations of the federal hazardous materials transportation regulations. The increase was mandated by Congress under the highway bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (Map-21) (49 U.S.C. 5101-5128) enacted last July. The penalties are retroactive to October 1, 2012. There was no opportunity for public notice and comment on the final rule because the changes were mandated by Congress.

U.S. DOT INCREASES MAXIMUM CIVIL PENALTIES FOR KNOWING VIOLATIONS OF HAZMAT RULES:

The U.S. DOT issued a final rule today that increases the maximum and minimum civil penalties for a knowing violation of the federal hazardous materials transportation regulations. The increase was mandated last July by Congress under the highway bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (Map-21) (49 U.S.C. 5101-5128). The penalties are retroactive to October 1, 2012 the date MAP-21 became effective. No notice and comment period was provided on the penalty increases since Congress specified the dollar amount for each in the statutory language of MAP-21. The final rule amends the following three areas under sections 49 CFR 329 and 49 CFR 171 of the Code of Federal Regulations:

  • Increases the maximum civil penalty from $55,000 to $75,000 for a person who knowingly violates federal HAZMAT regulations, including administrative orders, special permits and approvals.
  • Increases the maximum civil penalty from $110,000 to $175,000 for a person who knowingly violates federal HAZMAT regulations, including administrative orders, special permits and approvals that results in death, a serious illness, severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property.
  • Increases the minimum civil penalty from $250 to $450 for a violation related to any training provisions under the federal hazardous materials regulations.

According to 49 CFR 107.1 ‘acting knowingly’ means “acting or failing to act while (1) Having actual knowledge of the facts giving rise to the violation, or (2) Having the knowledge that a reasonable person acting in the same circumstances and exercising due care would have had.” In other words, any person who knows or should have known an act or omission is a violation and goes ahead despite such knowledge, is guilty of knowingly violating federal HAZMAT regulations.

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