USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

Interpretation Response #07-0218 ([Mr. Michael Lambert])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name:

Individual Name: Mr. Michael Lambert

Location State: PA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

January 15, 2008

Mr. Michael Lambert, CHP

4 Stonegate Drive

Burgettstown, PA 15021

Ref. No. 07-0218

Dear Mr. Lambert:

This is in response to your November 1, 2007 letter regarding the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR 171-180) to shipments of soil containing natural uranium.

Your question regards a former commercial site, licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that received a variety of ores primarily for the processing of these ores for the manufacture of molybdenum products, as well as ferroalloys. The facility operated in this capacity from approximately 1920 to 1991. Since 1991, the facility has been idle and is now undergoing remediation. A portion of the site has been identified through preliminary site characterization where appreciable natural uranium concentrations exist in soil. Additional characterization (soil sampling and radiological analysis) is needed to determine the uranium concentrations and better define the volume of the material that will be processed. Preliminary characterization results for the natural uranium from the area in question indicate that the activity concentration for exempt material and the activity limit for exempt consignment would be exceeded. In addition, the known concentration of natural uranium is only slightly less than 10 times the activity concentration for exempt material (approximately 96% of the limit, with the remaining 4% well within the analytical error).

You plan to transport the soil samples to a laboratory for characterization by tentatively selecting a proper shipping name, hazard class and identification number in accordance with the provisions in § 172.101(c)(11) for samples of material for which the hazard class is uncertain and must be determined by testing.

After the additional characterization you plan to hire a contractor to package and transport the excavated soil to a processing facility for recovery of uranium radionuclides for commercial use.

Your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q1. May the samples of material that are to be shipped for additional characterization be offered for transportation and transported under the exception in § 173.401(b)(4) for natural materials and ores?

A1. Yes. Section 173.401(b)(4) provides an exception for natural material and ores containing naturally occurring radionuclides which are not intended to be processed for use of these radionuclides, provided the activity concentration of the material does not exceed 10 times the values specified in § 173.436. Since the preliminary characterization of your material shows that the known concentration of the natural uranium is slightly less than 10 times the exempt concentration limit, and because the sample of material is being transported for purposes other than the extraction of radionuclides, the exception in § 173.401(b)(4) may be used.

Q2. May the material that is to be shipped for the recovery of uranium be transported under the exception in § 173.401(b)(4).

A2. No. The material may not be transported under the exception in § 173.401(b)(4) because it is being transported for the processing and extraction of radionuclides.

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 Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.401 Scope