Security and Safety Management of Trucked HazMat

Between 2009 and 2011, community risk assessments were conducted by Defence Research Development Canada (DRDC) across Canada. It was determined the top challenges around accidents during ground transportation of Hazardous Materials were:

  • Incidents often required resources beyond the community’s capabilities;
  • Responders often were challenged to identify detailed specifics about the load;
  • Incidents caused costly disruption to the supply chain, such as closure of critical trucking routes, while materials were identified and tactical mitigation was performed.

In the context of intentional human causation, a number of areas of supply chain and critical infrastructure were identified as being vulnerable to destruction –or severe disruption –when transported hazardous materials were weaponized.

Leaders from the Canadian Council of Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners (CCFMFC) recognized that the critical element for preparation and response to an incident, in the context of safety and expediency of mitigation, was the ability to access information about the specificity of the hazardous materials being carried.

Currently, a paper-based manifest is required by Transport Canada. This is on the side of the trailer or truck door and is expected to be updated each time the driver picks up or drops off a partial load. In reality, this does not happen as often as it should, resulting in shipping documents that are not up to date or accessible following a theft or collision of a vehicle.

Furthermore, tracking of loads for security purposes is not conducted in a standardized accessible fashion, nor providing pushed information to security organizations, emergency planners and responders.

In 2018, the New Brunswick Office of the Fire Marshal, in partnership with DRDC’s Canadian Safety & Security Program, CyberNB, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, and Emergency Solutions International (ESI), launched an effort to create a technology that would serve as the foundation for an ongoing risk management tool for the shipment of hazardous materials.

The outcome of the two-year project was a technological solution called the “E-manifest”. It was successfully validated in a complex tactical exercise conducted in Salisbury, New Brunswick in Sept 2020.

Validation partners for the exercise, which was designed and facilitated by ESI, included the primary partners, Transport Canada (regulatory, regional and CANUTEC representatives), New Brunswick Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers, FutureShield, National Research Council (NRC) Fire Laboratory, New Brunswick Trunked Mobile Radio Response Team, Air Liquide Canada, Ambulance NB, and Hazardous Materials Response Teams from the Cities of Moncton,Fredericton, Saint John, Edmundston, and Bathurst.

The validation exercise had achieved its objectives and demonstrated the proof of concept solution. Tracking the load of materials begins with the shipper or trucking firm. The timeline of movement of materials must be easily updated through the use of the driver’s phone, for example. Once a load or trailer is involved in a threat or incident, responders or emergency managers must be able to easily access the application on their phone or tablet by entering a unique alpha-numeric sequence associated with the trailer.

Secure, real-time access by responders and CANUTEC (the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre, operated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate of Transport Canada) was achieved in the validation exercise.

The successful completion of this Phase 1 project lays the groundwork for numerous opportunities for secondary security, safety and supply chain resiliency work. The solution will be moved toward operationalization by:

  1. Insertion within the CyberNB CIP-Net system through the Critical Infrastructure Security Operations Centre (CI-SOC). The ground-breaking CI-SOC CIP-Net is a collaborative alliance that increases the overall resiliency of the region’s critical infrastructure. It enables multiple partners to improve their individual and collective cybersecurity by coordinating threat intelligence to prevent or disrupt attacks.
  2. The launch of a complementary project with original partners, entitled “Target Hazard IQ” where real-time information will be created and accessible about the storage of high-risk hazardous materials at fixed sites.
  3. At the federal level, Transport Canada is standing up a “regulatory sandbox” to get input from stakeholders on switching from a paper system to the new technology and to facilitate equivalency.
  4. Consideration is being given to beginning a Phase 2 E-manifest project wherein the application would be readied for operationalization within three Atlantic Canadian trucking firms, while incorporating sensor technology, security tracking for high risk loads, communication systems from trailers in incidents without cell coverage, and the layering of predictive risk analytics around human intentional threat and weather-related change.
Based on this success, a vision is being created for the next steps forward through to a five-year full operationalization. Our team is always looking to collaborate and expand high-level partnerships to ensure these R&D projects are fully exploited for the benefit of the public safety community. Should you have any ideas or comments please do not hesitate to contact me or another one of the project partners.

About the author:

Mark leads the ESI team in conducting risk assessments, training, program, and plan review, exercise scenario development, exercise facilitation, and evaluation as well as compiling final After Action Review documentation and recommendations. Under Mark’s leadership, there have been six (6) Federal research and development projects conceived and executed by the ESI team. Service has been provided for various critical infrastructures, such as Port Saint John, Point Lepreau Generating Station, Canaport Liquefied Natural Gas, Saint John Energy, as well as corporations like Atlantic Potash, Mead Johnson Nutrition, and the Mosaic Company.