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June 2001 Newsletter
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The Uganda Ebola Virus outbreak that started in October 2000 has been determined to be over by the World Health organization (WHO) as of 28 February 2001. The outbreak killed 224 people.

As of 16 April 2001, 86107 cases of Cholera have been reported in the Kwa Zulu Natal Province of South Africa. There have been 181 deaths.

The new IATA and IMO Regulations have been plagued by almost uncountable corrections. ADR/RID has not fared much better in Europe.

The original version of USG-12 in ICAO and IATA left out some very important information about when the 24 hour emergency phone contact was not required, such as consumer commodities and limited quantities. Added to this problem is that some FAA enforcement personnel insist that shippers must provide international access codes and area codes, etc. for U.S.-exported shipments. USG-12 clearly states that the international access codes and area codes only apply to emergency response numbers located outside the United States.
While a great number of "good-citizen" type shippers do provide this information for emergency calls back to the U.S., it is not mandatory at this time.

Do you need any more confusion? Nippon Cargo Airlines and Korean Airlines have in-house requirements that both combination packagings and single packaging drums of dangerous liquids must be banded to a pallet with another pallet on the top of the drum. A few issues immediately come to mind: orientation marks; "inner packages comply with prescribed regulations"; and the wood pallet restrictions to some countries, which now appear to be turning into a bigger problem with the EU enacting a similar ban.

Effective 1 October 2001, the European Communities will require the treatment and marking of all coniferous wood packing materials originating in the United States, Canada, Japan, and China in order to prevent infestation by the pinewood nematode. (Source: HMAC).

Throw in rising fuel costs, mega mergers, the mad cow disease, the change in subsidiary risk labels, airline passenger rage, airport congestion, optional documentation procedures, and mid-year regulatory changes, then try to tell us that Y2K was not a problem. Remember, the new millennium started on 1 January 2001! Chaos reigns supreme! This is going to be some year.


OK. Now that we vented, lets get back to classifications.

This month we are going to review Class 8, Corrosives.

There are two schools of thought about corrosives. One uses "destruction" of the skin to describe a corrosive material. The other uses "severe damage to skin" to define corrosives.
Everyone, we hope, agrees corrosion to steel and aluminum also poses a major problem.

Since both of our schools ultimately arrive at skin destruction as the criteria this would lead us to be into that rare position where we can bring in the packing groups in an understandable way at the same time that we are discussing corrosive properties.

Corrosives, packing group I (remember, we always use roman numerals to indicate PG numbers), are defined as chemicals that cause total destruction of the skin tissue within and observable time frame of 60 minutes or less after an exposure of 3 minutes or less. Got that?

All right then, let's ask for a volunteer. You. Yes, You!

Suppose we gave you a glass bottle of 75% nitric acid. That's a PG I material.

And being a careless-type person, you dropped the bottle as you were avoiding that forklift driver doing 50 mph through your warehouse. The bottle breaks. The nitric acid splashes onto your clothes, soaking through your slacks and onto your leg. The clothing will start smoldering almost immediately. The nitric acid will almost instantly cause a burning sensation. "Sensation"? A very mild description of what really happens - excrutiating pain!

Did you ever burn your hand or just your fingers with a match? Multiply that by 10 and you might start to imagine how painful and permanent the injury might be from nitric acid. The burn from a single match will hurt for a few days and the skin will repair itself within a week or two. There should be no permanent scar.

The nitric acid will "burn" through the layers of the skin, layer by layer. It will accomplish the damage to the skin with an exposure of 3 minutes or less. Further damage can only be prevented by continually flushing the affected area for at least 20 minutes with constantly running water. Hopefully, running water is nearby. After almost drowning you with water for the 20 minutes we will all sit around and stare at you for another 40 minutes - 20 minutes [the water] + 40 minutes [observing you] = 60 minutes. Remember, a 3 (or less) minute exposure, then we observe our "volunteer" for up to 60 minutes. And when we finally determine that, yes, you appear to have permanent destruction of the skin, we can now confirm that our 75% nitric acid was indeed a Packing Group I corrosive material.

Thanks for being a volunteer. As a reward you will be left with a very ugly scar.

Of course, in the real world we do not ask for human volunteers. That is why we have laboratory testing conducted by scientists and technicians. The tests for skin corrosivity can be accomplished by using live rabbits or, as an alternative, with National Authority approval, invitro testing. Human experience can also be taken into consideration, but not ignorance.

The criteria for Packing Group II is based upon full destruction of the skin after an exposure greater than 3 minutes, up to 1 hour. A 14 day observation time frame is used after the affected area has been cleansed.

The criteria for Packing Group III is based upon full destruction of the skin after an exposure of more than 1 hour up to a maximum of 4 hours. A 14 day observation period is used after the affected area has been cleansed.

Even though a chemical does not destroy skin after an exposure of 4 hours or less, it should be tested further to determine if it corrodes steel or aluminum at a rate exceeding 6.25 mm (0.25 inch) per year. If it does, the material is assigned to PG III.

Other factors:

pH - determines whether the corrosive is acidic (<7) or basic (>7).
Organic - contains carbon (C) in its chemical structure.
Inorganic - does not contain carbon (C) in its chemical structure.

A transportation icon passes away.

I guess it was during the early or mid '60's that your editor was riding as a passenger in an airline sales executive's car heading to Allentown, Pennsylvania from Idlewild Airport in NYC. My "chauffer" had a CB radio in his automobile since he frequently made lengthy trips by highway. We were in the center lane of a three lane highway. We were right behind a big "18-wheeler" and my driver got on his radio and started cursing out the very large tractor trailer for hogging the "McLean Lane", more recently referred to as the "sandwich" lane. That was my introduction to the McLean name and to a trucking company known as the McLean Trucking Company. McLean's drivers preferred the middle lane on highways since it almost always moved faster than the traditionally slower right-hand lane. Other commercial drivers named the lane after the trucking company, at least in the eastern part of the United States. It has been indelibly imprinted in my mind all these years.

Malcom P. McLean, the founder of that trucking company, passed away on Friday, May 25, 2001. He was 87 years old. The Associated Press carried his obituary.

I've always associated the name with the trucking industry. Much to my surprise, reading the Obit, I learned that he created containerization, which now accounts for 90% of all cargo shipped by sea. He founded Sea-Land Service and nurtured it into the world's largest container carrier. He was named as the Man of the Century by the International Maritime Hall of Fame in 2000. He owned 5 companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. He left an enormous legacy to the transportation industry.

Malcom, "we hardly got to know ye".

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