Some hazmat background checks will be speedier

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In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is exempting hazmat applicants from some of the background-check process if they would be hauling for a federal or state agency directly supporting hurricane relief.

Prospective hazmat haulers still must apply in the normal manner and submit their fingerprints, but TSA will perform only a name-based background check for qualified haulers, in order to speed the relief process.

“Exemption requests cannot come from a private company,” said Karrie Harmon, a TSA regional spokesperson. Instead, the contracting state or federal agency must make the request on the carrier’s behalf.

The exemption was enacted after TSA saw the massive damage Katrina did to all segments of the economy, Harmon said.

“The exemption will end in December, but we will review it and could withdraw it earlier than that,” Harmon said.