Last reviewed 15 September 2016

In this feature article, Desmond Waight explains the purpose of High Consequence Dangerous Goods (HCDGs) and reveals an “interesting” interpretation of the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) provisions, in relation to unloaders and consignees, which has just been confirmed to him by a Department for Transport (DfT) official responsible for this policy area.


Many years ago, it was realised that terrorists had begun to see the potential in using dangerous goods in their attacks. Indeed, such an attack took place at Glasgow International Airport on the 30 June 2007 when two terrorists attempted to ram their way into the terminal using a Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle, loaded with several propane gas canisters, 60 litres of petrol and a quantity of nails, was driven into the glass doors of the Glasgow International Airport terminal and set ablaze.

However, security bollards outside the entrance stopped the car from entering the terminal, although the terminal doors were damaged. The terrorists then ignited the dangerous goods. The driver was severely burnt in the ensuing fire, and later died, and five members of the public were also injured, although luckily none were seriously harmed. Some injuries were sustained by those assisting the police in detaining the occupants.

Both terrorists at the scene and all those injured were taken to the nearby Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. Subsequent investigations showed that this incident was related to the London car bombs that had been discovered the day before.

Police identified the two as Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim doctor of Iraqi descent working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Kafeel Ahmed, also known as Khalid Ahmed, an engineer and a driver. Bilal Abdullah was later found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 32 years.

UK initiative

In the light of earlier non-UK use of dangerous goods in terrorist attacks, and prior to the Glasgow attack, the UK had already taken the initiative in respect of proposing amendments of the UN Model Regulations to try and ensure a consistent global approach across the modes, which lead to the adoption of a new Chapter 1.4 in the UN Model Regulations 13th revised edition, which was basically picked up and adapted by all the major international modes, including ADR which of course is applicable domestically (as result of an EU directive) as well as to international movements.

This Chapter covered “fully regulated” of what sort, but also included additional requirements for those dangerous goods and package sizes/tank sizes, subsequently called HCDGs considered to have particular potential for misuse in a terrorist event as these could cause serious consequences, such as:

  • mass casualties

  • mass destruction

  • mass socio-economic disruption (particularly considered likely in the case of misuse of Class 7 Radioactives).

This article will now discuss, the why, when, what and who are (or should be) involved in the carriage of HCDGs, as required by ADR (where the provisions are found in Chapter 1.10).


So why were these controls introduced? Not only to try and prevent access by terrorists and others with criminal intent, but also to try and prevent information about where and when such HCDGs were to be carried (see ADR

This in addition to other measures that are applicable to all dangerous goods such as:

  • training in security issues (nature of, recognising, preventing, etc)

  • carriage of photo ID by the vehicle crew

  • security of transit sites (airside warehouses and other temporary storage facilities).


ADR Chapter 1.10 starts to apply whenever the quantity per transport unit exceeds the ADR load threshold.

However, the HCDG requirements of ADR only apply if in that load one or more of the “fully regulated” dangerous goods is of type and presented in a quantity that exceeds those specified in the mandatory listing in ADR at and in respect of Class 7.

This listing includes such Class 2 Flammable Gases.

This is unlike the UN Model Regulations, International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions (TIs)/International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGRs) which follow the UN by only giving an indicative list of HCDGs.

Those present in the Glasgow attack would not have been deemed to be HCDGs.


Those involved, see below, must prepare a detailed security plan covering at least the following elements:

  • specific allocation of responsibilities for security to competent and qualified person(s) with appropriate authority to carry out their task

  • records of dangerous goods involved

  • review of current situation and measures in place

  • clear statement of future measures to be taken, including:

    • training

    • policies

    • operating practices

    • equipment and resources to be used.

  • effective and up-to-date procedures for reporting/dealing with security threats/breaches/incidents

  • procedures to test the security plan and for periodic review

  • measures to ensure the physical security of security sensitive transport information in the plan

  • measures to ensure that details in the security plan have limited circulation to those that need it.


ADR says:

ADR 1.4.2 lists the “main participant” as:

  • consignors (even if they do not pack, fill or load the transport units)

  • carriers

  • consignees.

ADR 1.4.3 lists the “other participant” in the carriage of dangerous goods as:

  • loaders

  • packers

  • fillers

  • tank container/portable tank operators

  • unloaders.

From this, it can be seen that ADR clearly intends the requirements to include consignees and unloaders.

However, some verbal comments made at the British Association of Dangerous Goods Professionals (BADGP) AGM and lectures earlier this year by Christian Whitley, Senior Transport Security Inspector at Land Transport Security Division suggested that the DfT did not interpret ADR 1.10 as including consignees and unloaders as requiring to develop security plans.

In response to a follow-up request from the author of this article for written and quotable confirmation of this view, the DfT has provided recently (from Mr Whitley) — not published in the form of any exception notice but obtained in writing within an email — the following statement.

“I can advise that I still hold the view that consignees and unloaders of HCDGs do not normally fall within the scope of ADR 1.10. In broad terms (and as set out in you quote below) the ADR regulation is to ensure the safe and secure carriage of dangerous goods. The end destination is just that and no longer involved in the carriage of dangerous goods unless consigning themselves. If we included consignees and unloaders in scope then the number of sites regulated would increase significantly, including, for example, sites such as petrol stations.

Of course whilst HCDG sites and carriers have to meet regulatory requirements, they are welcome to go beyond requirements if they choose to do so or could otherwise implement other good practice on security matters.”

While there are similarities to the situation relating to ADR DGSA provisions of ADR 1.8.3 where DfT did once publish a Guidance Notice (No 1 of 2009) agreeing with the European Commission’s interpretation that ADR’s, which requires undertakings to appoint a DGSA but only if their activities include the carriage, or the related packing, loading, filling or unloading of dangerous goods, this did not include consignees (and nor consignors) involved at the final destination.

Indeed, in the view of the author of this article, this interpretation goes against the wording of ADR and the intent of Chapter 1.10 to keep information about HCDGs movements limited to those that need to know. After all, one does not want an employee of a consignee sounding off in public that they regularly get tanker deliveries of a PG I toxic material, to later find that terrorists have targeted the load with consequential multiple casualties and mayhem. Neither about packages of explosives of Divisions 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3C, nor about some Division 6.2 UN2814/2900 infectious such as cholera samples, especially, for example, in view of the recent disclosure that it was UN Nepalese troops who were the source of the cholera in Haiti in 2010 that has since killed about 10,000 people in the country.


Not only do ADR’s Chapter 1.10 security provisions need to be understood, one needs to understand how these are interpreted by DfT and other enforcers (such as the HSE) to ensure that an undertaking’s legal responsibilities are being fully met, and where applicable and appropriate go beyond these, in order to try and minimise the chances of HCDGs being successfully intercepted and misused by terrorists to cause death destruction and public panic.