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Rules to be enforced on sending hazardous materials

Because mishandling of oxygen canisters is implicated in the recent ValuJet crash, several federal agencies and private carriers are upgrading enforcement of regulations covering shipment of hazardous materials.

"The Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Postal Service and other agencies and express carriers all have regulations about what can be transported and how," said Penny Guyer, manager of mail services.

People in the MIT community-especially those in laboratories-need to be aware of shipping regulations. There are stringent requirements for biological, chemical and radioactive materials. To complicate matters further, Ms. Guyer said, materials that are considered hazardous by one agency may not be by another. Materials that are acceptable in the US may be contraband elsewhere.

To ease MIT's compliance with the many regulations, the managers of MIT's shipping rooms have recently completed training in the requirements of the federal agencies. John Gibbs (Building 3), Michael Humber (Building E19), Robert McKenna (Building 20) and Rui Borges, mail operations supervisor, are available to advise the community on requirements for packaging and paperwork.

"The regulations are not optional," Ms. Guyer said. "Should we send out something that does not meet the requirements, MIT could be liable for all costs, plus fines of up to $25,000 per day. Individual shippers are subject to additional fines personally."

Everyone planning to ship or mail a chemical, biological or radioactive substance should call Mail Services, x3-6000, for information and assistance.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 12, 1996.

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