The US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifies a number of rules and regulation with regards to transportation of humans or goods. The modes of transportation that DOT regulates include transportation through highways and by rail. These regulations are published in the form of Code Federal Regulations (CFR) and specify the practices that must be followed for transportations.
For goods transportation, DOT regulates a number of aspects including packaging and practices to be used in transportation and in case of emergency of hazardous material. The DOT 49 174 CFR regulation specifies these in terms of rail transportation. The DOT 49 174.450 prohibits the use of water if a fire occurs during the rail transport of charcoal. Furthermore, it also specifies that if any charcoal has become wet during the extinguishing process, then it must be placed in a dry place a minimum of 5 days under constant observation before a decision is taken about its movement (Office of Federal Register, 2006). This regulation is a safety precaution against a characteristic of charcoal through which charcoal which becomes wet goes under a internal exothermic reaction, which causes its temperature to rise considerably and may cause fire. This property of charcoal of burning when wet is called “Self Ignition”. Though the ignition of wet charcoal may not happen if the amount is not large, the charcoal is transported through rail in large amount which makes the possibility of ignition a possibility. Hence it is recommended that charcoal should be dried completely (for 5 days) and should only be forwarded then. A number of other departments, such a various Fire Departments, Police Stations also provide the same advisory about charcoal (The Naked Whiz, 2010).
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