PHMSA Offers Guidance for Handling Ebola-Contaminated Infectious Waste

A newly published safety advisory notice from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration contains guidance for anyone who is packing, handling, or transporting material known or suspected of being contaminated with Ebola. Such waste is regulated as a Category A infectious substance under the Hazardous Materials Regulations, according to the notice. Ebola-contaminated materials that have been appropriately incinerated, autoclaved, or otherwise inactivated are not considered Category A infectious substances and are not subject to the requirements of the HMR, the notice states. It says for more information on the HMR requirements, parties should see http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat/transporting-infectious-substances. For guidance on how to handle infectious substances before transporting them, refer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/index.html. It states that, “to transport materials contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with the Ebola virus, a special permit may be necessary to allow for a variance of the HMR packaging requirements to handle the larger volume of contaminated waste generated during the treatment of Ebola patients. The Department of Transport (DOT) may grant a special permit if the applicant can demonstrate that an alternative packaging will achieve a safety level that is at least equal to the safety level required under HMR or is consistent with the public interest if a required safety level does not exist. Emergency processing of special permits applies when the special permit is necessary to prevent significant injury to persons or property not preventable under normal processing, for immediate national security, or to prevent significant economic loss. To qualify for emergency processing, the application must meet specific criteria, justifications must be well documented, and describe the impact if the special permit is not granted.” PHMSA has issued a non-site specific special permit (Special Permit DOT-SP 16279) to certain waste haulers that authorises the transportation in commerce of waste contaminated with or suspected of being contaminated with the Ebola virus for disposal. Other waste haulers not yet authorised under Special Permit DOT-SP 16279 may apply for party status.

Occupational Health & Safety News, 17 November 2014 ;http://www.ohsonline.com ;