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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 #08-0109 ([Lawrence W. Bierlein] [Lawrence W. Bierlein])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Lawrence W. Bierlein

Individual Name: Lawrence W. Bierlein

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

April 28, 2008                                                                         




Lawrence W. Bierlein

Suite 500

1101 30th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20007


Ref. No.:  08-0109



Dear Mr. Bierlein:


            This is in response to your letter of March 20, 2008, asking for a summary of the legal status of DOT Special Permits for the manufacture, marking, sale, and use of composite cylinders for compressed gases.

            The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) issues hazardous materials transportation regulations (HMRs) under the authority of Title 49, United States Code, Sections 5101, et seq.  Under this law, HMRs of general applicability are published in title 49 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 100-185.  These regulations have the status of law, and are enforceable by compliance orders as well as civil and criminal penalties.  The HMRs include a number of gas cylinder specifications in 49 CFR Part 178, and makers of this hazardous materials packaging are subject to DOT's direct inspection and enforcement jurisdiction.

            In addition to the regulations of general applicability, 49 USC. § 5117 empowers the Secretary of Transportation to issue Special Permits authorizing alternative practices and packaging to those specified in the general HMRs.  The application and grant process has been delegated to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and is described in 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart B.  PHMSA must find that the Special Permit maintains a level of safety "at least equal to the safety level required" under the regulations of general applicability.  As required for establishment of a general regulation such as a specification for packaging, issuance of a Special Permit is a public process, involving a public comment period.  DOT maintains several thousand Special Permits, many prescribing equivalent standards for the manufacture and use of composite cylinders.

            Regulations of general applicability and Special Permits are legal authorizations developed, issued, and enforced by PHMSA.  Compliance inspections and sanctions apply equally, whether a matter is covered by a general regulation or a Special Permit.  See 49 CFR Subpart D, Sections 107.305, 107.307, and 107.333.  Thus, a Special Permit has the same legal force and effect as a DOT regulation published in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, and is considered equivalent to the specifications.

            If you have additional questions please contact me at 202-366-4511.






Delmer Billings

Director, Office of Hazardous Materials

  Special Permits and Approvals


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
107.305 Investigations
107.307 General
107.333 Criminal penalties generally