Serious Incident
Hazmat Term

Starting with reporting on 2002 incidents, PHMSA defines "serious incidents" as incidents that involve:

  • a fatality or major injury caused by the release of a hazardous material,
  • the evacuation of 25 or more persons as a result of release of a hazardous material or exposure to fire,
  • a release or exposure to fire which results in the closure of a major transportation artery,
  • the alteration of an aircraft flight plan or operation,
  • the release of radioactive materials from Type B packaging,
  • the release of over 11.9 gallons or 88.2 pounds of a severe marine pollutant, or
  • the release of a bulk quantity (over 119 gallons or 882 pounds) of a hazardous material.
Additional Info/Example:

This term was redefined in 2000. PHMSA developed a new definition of a hazardous materials "serious incident." The in redefining "serious incident" is to identify a subset of all reported incidents that can be used to measure our performance over time, and to identify a subset of all reported incidents that require more intense scrutiny and, potentially, programmatic response.

For the sake of comparison, years prior to 2002 will include two sets of "Serious Incident" reports, one using the original definition and one using the new definition.

Incidents occurring prior to 2002, PHMSA defined "serious incident" as follows:

PHMSA defines serious incidents as incidents that involve: a fatality or major injury due to a hazardous material; closure of a major transportation artery or facility or evacuation of six or more persons due to the presence of a hazardous material; or a vehicle accident or derailment resulting in the release of a hazardous material.

Visit the Incident Statistics page.