Objective: Due to the sheer size and capacity of the tanker and the properties of cargo transported in the tank, hazmat tanker accidents are more disastrous than other types of vehicle accidents. The aim of this study was to provide a current survey on the situation of accidents involving tankers transporting hazardous materials in China.
Methods: Detailed descriptions of 708 tanker accidents associated with hazmat transportation in China from 2004 to 2011 were analyzed to identify causes, location, types, time of occurrence, hazard class for materials involved, consequences, and the corresponding probability.
Results: Hazmat tanker accidents mainly occurred in eastern (38.1%) and southwest China (12.3%). The most frequent hazmat tanker accidents involved classes 2, 3, and 8. The predominant accident types were rollover (29.10%), run-off-the-road (16.67%), and rear-end collisions (13.28%), with a high likelihood of a large spill occurring. About 55.93% of the accidents occurred on freeways and class 1 roads, with the spill percentage reaching 75.00% and the proportion of spills that occurred in the total accidents amounting to 77.82%, of which 61.72% are considered large spills. The month with the highest accident probability was July (12.29%), and most crashes occurred during the early morning (4:00-6:00 a.m.) and midday (10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) hours, 19.63% versus 16.10%. Human-related errors (73.8%) and vehicle-related defects (19.6%) were the primary reasons for hazmat tanker crashes. The most common outcomes of a hazmat tanker accident was a spill without further events (55.51%), followed by a release with fire (7.77%), and release with an explosion (2.54%).
Conclusions: The safety situation of China's hazmat tanker transportation is grim. Such accidents not only have high spill percentages and consistently large spills but they can also cause serious consequences, such as fires and explosions. Improving the training of drivers and the quality of vehicles, deploying roll stability aids, enhancing vehicle inspection and maintenance, and developing good delivery schedules may all be considered effective measures for mitigating hazmat tanker accidents, especially severe crashes.
Keywords: China; accident statistics; hazardous materials (hazmat); spill probability; tank truck (tanker).