At last, the moment for which hazmat pros have waited untold winters! The final season of Game of Thrones starts Sunday.
Everyone in the Dangerous Goods galaxy knows Game of Thrones is really about hazmat transport. For all its swordplay, palace intrigue and dragons, the show addresses the same issues hazmat pros deal with every day: Which rules apply? Who gets to decide? And what will non-compliance cost?
Let’s review the relevant Dangerous Goods issues in play before the new season burns its way into our lives. (Spoilers ahead if you have not completed Season 7.)
Evidence that Game of Thrones is about hazmat shipping
First, the evidence:
- Source material. Game of Thrones and the hazmat transport business are each based on staggeringly long, frighteningly complex book series that are never completed. George R.R. Martin is years behind delivering Book 6 of A Song of Ice and Fire, and regulatory manuals such as the 49 CFR and the IATA DGR change with disconcerting regularity.
- The numbers 7 and 49. Hazmat shipping in the U.S. is governed by the 49th volume of the Code of Federal Regulations—and 49 is equal to 7 x 7. In Game of Thrones, people in the Seven Kingdoms worship a group of gods known collectively as The Seven—and 7 x 7 = 49. Coincidence? Please.
Plus, it’s been nearly three years since we first published our theory, and in all that time no one from HBO or Bantam Books has stepped forward to deny it. Hmmm …
Important hazmat-related themes in Game of Thrones
When you watch the show Sunday night, try not to be distracted by the costumes, the dialogue, the beautiful people, the sweeping vistas or the computer-generated dragons. Keep these critical themes in mind:
- Technology outpaces regulations when there’s no culture for regulatory oversight. Barrels of wildfire that should have been placarded instead exploded under a sept, killing hundreds. Then we had dragons spewing flame, and before they could even be classified, we had zombie ice dragons spewing some sort of wall-melting ice flame. Where’s PHMSA when you need them?
- Harmonization is worth the hassle. No one thought Dothraki warriors could make the trip to Westeros, let alone thrive there, but Daenerys Targaryen proved they could easily be integrated into a new ecosystem. If Dothraki can harmonized, surely there’s hope for U.S. and EU hazmat regulations.
- The future is multi-modal. With dragons aloft, ships a-sail and Dothraki warriors wreaking havoc on horseback, Daenerys begins Season 8 on the brink of unprecedented success—or not. Her failure to safeguard against unforeseen hazards in air transport mode has put her entire operation at risk.
- Speaking of hazards and risk … recent years have seen DG publications changing the word “risk” to “hazard.” Labelmaster Consulting Partner Geoff Leach explains, “Risk is likelihood combined with outcome, whereas hazard is just the outcome.” So getting burnt to a crisp by dragon fire is a hazard, but the risk varies depending on your relationship to Daenerys.
- Documentation is critical. As maester of the Night Watch, Samwell Tarly must safeguard the accuracy of texts and scrolls dating back millennia. After all, “The Night is dark and full of errors.”
The central question behind both GoT and DG
At the end of the day, the central question in Game of Thrones is, “Can we put aside our mutual grievances to address something that threatens us all?”
Every Dangerous Goods professional will recognize that this question also lies at the core of the ongoing tension between industry and regulators. And we recognize that working together is the only way to guarantee the viability of the Dangerous Goods supply chain.
Can Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen put aside their ambitions to battle the Night King? Can North and South stand united? Will the Hound and the Mountain finally embrace in brotherly bonhomie?
We’ll know in a few weeks. As Tyrion Lannister would say, “It’s easy to confuse ‘what is’ with ‘what ought to be.’”
Compliance is no fantasy! Make sure your shipments are safe and in full compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.