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Interpretation Response #07-0201 ([Q. A. Safety] [Mr. Ray L. Faucheux, Jr.])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Q. A. Safety

Individual Name: Mr. Ray L. Faucheux, Jr.

Location State: LA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Nov 29, 2007


Mr. Ray L. Faucheux, Jr.                           Ref. No.:  07-0201

Security Manager

Q. A. Safety

5240 Coffee Drive

New Orleans. LA  70115

Dear Mr. Faucheux:

This responds to your letter dated October 15, 2007, regarding the term "obliterated" as it applies to placard displays on freight containers and transport vehicles under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).   You enclosed photographs of partial and painted over placard displays for our review.

According to your letter, your company"s coffee processing plant receives 20-foot shipping containers from all over the world.  At times containers arrive at your company"s drop lots with placards, partial placards, painted over placards, and sometimes just the placard backing. Your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q1.    Is it true that placards must be removed from a freight container and transport vehicle when it does not contain a hazardous material or after the containers have been cleaned?

A1.    Your understanding is correct.  Generally, no person may, by marking or otherwise (e.g., placarding), represent that a hazardous material is present in a package, container, motor vehicle, rail car, aircraft or vessel if the hazardous material is not present (§ 171.2(k)). 

Specifically, no person may affix or display on a packaging, freight container, unit load device, motor vehicle or rail car a hazard warning placard unless the material being offered or transported is a hazardous material, the placard represents the hazard of the material, and the placard conforms to the requirements of the HMR (§ 172.502(a)(1)).

Placards on an empty packaging sufficiently cleaned of residue and purged of vapors to remove any potential hazard must be removed, obliterated, or securely covered in transportation (§§ 173.29(b)(1) and (2) and 172.514(b)(1)).

Q2.    As the term "obliterated" is used under the HMR, at what point is a container considered not placarded?

A2.    The term "obliterated", although not specifically defined under the HMR, is intended to mean destroy or eradicate (e.g., by painting over) so as not to represent that the container holds a hazardous material in transportation; at which point, a container is not considered placarded.

Q3.    Is it permissible to paint over a placard, or partially remove it?

A3.    Painting over the placard, if it completely covers it, would be acceptable; however, a partially removed placard display does not conform to the requirements of the HMR and is prohibited under § 172.502(a)(2)).

Q4.      Is it permissible to have the glue or backing of a placard left on a container?

A4.      The glue or backing of a placard left on a container is not a violation of the HMR.

The HMR do not prescribe methods for cleaning the outside of a freight container or a transport vehicle.

I hope this satisfies your inquiry.  If we can be of further assistance, please contact us.



John A. Gale

Chief, Standards Development

Office of Hazardous Materials

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.500 Applicability of placarding requirements
172.502 Prohibited and permissive placarding