American Journal of Environmental Sciences

The International Multimodal Transport of Hazardous Goods and Waste

Giancarlo Carosso, Cesare Luceri and Pierpaolo Oreste

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2012.443.453

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 8, Issue 4

Pages 443-453


The international multimodal transport of hazardous goods and waste is a sector of remarkable economic importance. This transport activity is connected to several productive sectors and it can have considerable repercussions on the environment and health as well as on the safety of the workers and third parties that study in the same field. A certain part of the transport of hazardous goods and waste is managed by organized criminals who can obtain enormous savings by neglecting the measures necessary to protect the environment and safety. The legitimate economy is thus damaged and, above all, the efforts the International Community has made since the fifties-sixties, concerning the regulation of the complex aspects of this activity, are undermined. Two distinct judicial models exist at an international level concerning hazardous waste and goods: "transboundary movement" and "international transport". The purpose of these models is to regulate a phenomenon which, although very complex and articulated, requires a homogeneous view. The international multimodal transport judicial model is here examined in 3 subsequent stages: (1) the general aspects and the details along the entire chain, starting from the loading operations, then going on to the transport itself and ending up with the unloading at its final destination; (2) the controls on the respect of international legislation on this topic; (3) a study case is conducted pertaining to the extensive PCB category which, from a judicial point of view, in certain cases can be considered hazardous goods and in other cases hazardous waste. The aim of the study is to supply decision makers with indications that can be used to improve the efficacy and the effectiveness of the regulations at a UN level and of the cascading particular agreements for the various means of transport. The international multimodal transport judicial model suffers from the uncertainties that were already encountered for the transborder movement model, with particular reference to the lack of a unique interpretation of what is waste and what are goods at an international, regional and national level. This difficulty, which was already present in the first model, has negative repercussions on the second one and diminishes the efficacy and effectiveness of the interventions put into place to solve the real problems of multimodal transport which, if considered separately, would be valid. Even the controls, which are basically objectively complex and costly, come up against difficulties right from the beginning. Finally, the study case of PCBs also shows that the lack of a solution to the fundamental problem reduces the various operations inherent to transport to almost just a heavy bureaucratic practice, which suffers from practical implications that make it difficult to reach the objectives of protecting the environment and safety that the model has established. The attention of decision makers should be concentrated on two fundamental aspects. The first concerns the fundamental theme of the difference between goods and waste which, being unresolved, weakens many parts of the two models and results in the amplification of the problems on the second model. The second aspect regards the controls that should be conducted. The improvement of the technical-judicial model requires the combined study of experts, from both the judicial and technical fields.


© 2012 Giancarlo Carosso, Cesare Luceri and Pierpaolo Oreste. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.