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Amazon Starts Building Distribution Centers Specially Designed For Hazardous Goods

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Amazon owns approximately 10M SF of the Greater Boston industrial market, CBRE Vice President Doug Rodenstein said.

Sometimes, doing something safely is more important than doing it quickly — even for Amazon, a company known for its speed.

The e-commerce giant has begun construction on a distribution center designed to handle and ship hazardous materials such as pressurized aerosols and harmful chemicals, Wired reports. The 500K SF building in Mississippi will open this summer.

Reports and criticism of potentially dangerous working conditions at Amazon distribution centers have been well-documented over the past few years, but many have been focused on the demands placed on workers or insufficient support. In December, a different kind of danger emerged when a package of bear repellent ruptured while being moved by a robot, sending two dozen workers to the hospital from inhaling the fumes.

By that time, Amazon had already started renovating an 80K SF warehouse in Virginia to use as a test site for specialized distribution of such products, Wired reports. It also has specially protected sections within many of its distribution centers, but its Mississippi warehouse will be the first entirely dedicated to the more delicate jobs. More are expected to follow.

Among the features specific to the hazardous materials warehouse will be enhanced sprinkler systems and technology more specifically suited to the task at hand. Employees will also be trained in responding to chemical spills, and products shipped from the center will only travel by ground transit, never air, according to Wired.

Having centralized distribution centers for specific products and slower delivery systems runs counter to Amazon's plans to halve its free shipping time for Amazon Prime members from two days to one. Still, it only adds to the company's ravenous demand for industrial real estate.