Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

MnDOT Policies

Abandoned Containers on MnDOT Right-of-Way

MnDOT Policy #OE017
Effective Date: March 25, 2020
Reviewed: May 21, 2024

View/print signed policy (pdf)

Abandoned Container Management Manual

Please go to the MnDOT Org Chart to find specific contact information: Org Chart.

Responsible Senior Officer: Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer
Policy Owners:
Director, Office of Maintenance
Director, Office of Environmental Stewardship
Policy Contacts:
Maintenance Operations Unit Leader
MnDOT Safety Director
Regulated Materials Unit Supervisor

Policy statement

This policy standardizes the processes for reporting, assessment (triage), removal, and recording of abandoned containers on MnDOT right-of-way.

This policy is limited to abandoned materials in intact containers; it does not include spills of liquid or non-containerized solids.

MnDOT personnel throughout the state must follow the procedures outlined in the Abandoned Container Management Manual. Every reasonable and businesslike effort must be made to recover costs associated with abandonments from the responsible party(s).

MnDOT personnel who triage or manage abandoned containers must complete Abandoned Container Triage Training a minimum of every two years. The initial training must be in-person. Each District must maintain a current, accessible list of their designated and trained Abandoned Container Triage Persons. This list must be posted on each District’s safety iHUB page.

Abandoned Container Awareness Training must be included in the Introduction to Safety for New Employees (Part 1) or Highway Abandonments Awareness (SFTY00128).

Reason for policy

MnDOT personnel encounter abandoned containers on MnDOT right-of-way, including roadways, roadsides, rest areas, storage yards, and maintenance facilities. Abandoned containers can hold a wide range of materials, some of which can be a hazard to MnDOT employees and the public. This policy exists to ensure abandoned containers are consistently handled in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner by personnel in all MnDOT Offices and Districts. 


All MnDOT employees must comply with this policy.

Key stakeholders with responsibilities under this policy include:

  • Abandoned Container Triage Persons
  • District Safety Administrators
  • Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations Hazardous Materials Specialists
  • Office of Environmental Stewardship Regulated Materials Management Team
  • Adopt a Highway Coordinators
  • Highway Sponsorship Program Director


Abandoned Container

A container or other receptacle with potentially dangerous contents that has been left on MnDOT’s right-of-way.

Abandoned Container Awareness Training

Training provided to MnDOT employees as a part of Introduction to Safety for New Employees (Part 1) or Highway Abandonments Awareness (SFTY00128).

Abandoned Container Triage Person

A designated MnDOT employee who has been trained in the assessment (triage) and removal of abandoned containers. 

Note: This person has the authority to retain an emergency contractor to handle abandoned containers. District Adopt a Highway Coordinators and the Highway Sponsorship Program Director are not considered Abandoned Container Triage Persons.

Abandoned Container Triage Training

A course instructing MnDOT employees in the awareness, identification, and safe handling and removal of abandoned containers on MnDOT’s right-of-way. 

Note: Training is co-sponsored by the Offices of Environmental Stewardship (OES) and OFCVO.

District-Designated (Storage) Facility

A MnDOT District site established to receive abandoned containers from MnDOT’s right-of-way for proper storage prior to disposal.


A threat to public health, welfare, or safety that threatens the functioning of government, the protection of property, or the health or safety of people.

Emergency Response Contractor

A state-authorized vendor providing environmental emergency response services that can be retained through the Department of Administration’s contract to properly remove and transport hazardous waste.

* See State Emergency Response Contractors

Hazardous Waste Contractor

A MnDOT-approved vendor authorized to handle abandoned containers.

*See: MnDOT Approved List of Waste Contractors (pdf)

Imminently Dangerous Material

Any material that is immediately dangerous to life and/or health because of toxicity, reactivity, or other hazardous characteristics.

MnDOT Right-of-Way

State of Minnesota owned-property or easements under the control of MnDOT including the interstate and state trunk highways, remote yards and pits, operational facilities, and rest areas.

Not Safe to Handle

Descriptor for material that is not imminently dangerous but has been determined by an Abandoned Container Triage Person or MnDOT Hazardous Materials Specialist as unsuitable for MnDOT personnel to handle.


Abandoned Container Triage Persons

District Safety Administrators

  • Provide and/or coordinate Abandoned Container Awareness Training for MnDOT employees who might encounter an abandoned container.

Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations Hazardous Materials Specialists

  • Assist in providing Abandoned Container Triage training.
  • Provide assistance in triaging containers.
  • Provide assistance in identifying the owner of or responsible party for abandoned containers.

Office of Environmental Stewardship Regulated Materials Management Specialists

  • Assist in providing Abandoned Container Triage training.

Adopt a Highway District Coordinators

  • Provide awareness information regarding abandoned containers to Adopt a Highway program volunteers.

Highway Sponsorship Program Director

  • Provide awareness information regarding abandoned containers to Highway Sponsorship program participants and volunteers.

Policy Owners (Director, Office of Maintenance and Director, Office of Environmental Stewardship)

  • Review the policy every 2 years, or sooner as necessary, to ensure the policy remains up to date.
  • Ensure the Abandoned Container Management Manual, workflow, and associated forms remain current.
  • Ensure training associated with the policy remains current.
  • Monitor state, federal, enterprise, agency, or other requirements that apply to the policy or procedures.
  • Consult with the Office of Chief Counsel to ensure the policy and procedures remain compliant with all state, federal, enterprise, agency, or other requirements.
  • Ensure that necessary approvals by state or federal agencies are obtained before changes to the policy or procedures are implemented.
  • Work with the Policy Coordinator to revise the policy and/or confirm its accuracy..
  • Communicate policy revisions, reviews, and retirements to stakeholders.

Resources and related information


Processes, Procedures, and Instructions


  • Business Data Catalog (BDC) – accessible from employee Intranet
  • MnDOT’s Policy Website

History and updates


March 25, 2020

Policy review

  • March 10, 2022 - no changes
  • May 21, 2024 - Updated policy contact, trainings that include Abandoned Container Awareness, links, and added three policy owner responsibilities to match the revised template.

This policy's next scheduled review is due March 2026.