New hazmat penalties are in effect

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Revised penalties for federal hazardous materials transportation violations became effective Feb. 17. Some fines went up; others went down. The changes result from the long-term transportation bill President Bush signed in August.

The changes include:

  • The maximum civil penalty was increased from $32,500 to $50,000 for a knowing violation, and to $100,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.
  • The minimum civil penalty has dropped from $275 to $250, except a minimum civil penalty of $450 applies to a training violation.
  • Criminal penalties now apply to both reckless and willful violations of federal hazardous materials transportation law; or the regulations, orders, special permits and approvals issued.
  • The maximum criminal penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation were retained. But the maximum imprisonment has been upped to 10 years in any case in which the violation involves the release of a hazardous material that results in death or bodily injury.