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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #05-0313 ([Chevron U.S.A. Inc.] [Ms. Patricia E. Lin])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

Individual Name: Ms. Patricia E. Lin

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Feb 27, 2006


Ms. Patricia E. Lin                        Reference No. 05-0313
Counsel, Environmental Practice Group
Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
1500 Louisiana Street
Houston, TX 77002

Dear Ms. Lin:

This is in response to your November 23,’ 2005 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask if temporary storage of a railroad car containing hazardous material on a leased railroad spur is considered to be “in transportation.” In addition, you ask if the shipper or carrier is financially responsible for any release during transportation. Your question pertains to the following scenario:

A shipper consigns a shipment of a Class 3 (Flammable liquid) material from a vendor’s facility in Alabama to its processing plant in Mississippi. Initially, the shipment is carried in trucks via public highway to a private rail yard. The shipment is then transloaded from the trucks to a railcar. The railcar is stored on a leased railroad spur for a period of 1-3 days before it is picked up by the rail carrier and transported to its final destination.

In the scenario you describe in your November 23 letter, the storage of the hazardous material in a railcar located on a leased railroad spur is considered to be “in transportation” for purposes of the HMR. See § 171.1(c). Specifically, in the scenario you describe, the storage of the material at the rail yard is “storage incidental to movement” and subject to all applicable HMR requirements. The HMR define “storage incidental to movement” to include “storage of a transport vehicle, freight container, or package containing a hazardous material by any person between the time that a carrier takes physical possession of the hazardous material for the purpose of transporting it in commerce until the package containing the hazardous material is physically delivered to the destination indicated on a shipping document, package marking, or other medium.” See § 171.8. Storage incidental to movement also includes storage at a transloading facility. See §171.1(c)(4).

Financial responsibility for a release of hazardous material during transportation is not regulated by the HMR. However, federal law does provide for civil and criminal penalties when a person is found to have knowingly and/or willfully violated the HMR or federal hazardous materials transportation law. See 49 U.S.C. § 5123 and 5124.

I hope this information is helpful.


John A Gale
Chief, Standards Development
Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.156 Exceptions for limited quantity and ORM