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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 #09-0175 ([California Department of Fish and Game] [Mr. Charles R. Todd])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: California Department of Fish and Game

Individual Name: Mr. Charles R. Todd

Location State: CA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

September 3, 2009



Mr. Charles R. Todd

California Department of Fish and Game

2005 Nimbus Road

Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Ref. No. 09-0175

Dear Mr. Todd:

This responds to your June 20, 2009 letter requesting clarification of authorized packaging for small quantities of hazardous materials under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask whether hazardous material wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in plastic bags is an acceptable method of packaging under the small quantities exceptions in § 173.4; and whether there are alternatives to these exceptions.

According to your letter, your agency ships, by highway and air, samples of bird feathers contaminated with oil to laboratories for analysis. You indicate the types of oil found on the feathers meet the definition of Class 3 flammable liquids in Packing Group III. For evidence collection purposes, the samples are wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in plastic bags.

The packaging method described in your letter and illustrated in the photographs enclosed with your letter does not conform to the packaging authorized under § 173.4. You should be aware that these small quantities exceptions are limited to domestic transportation by highway and rail. Small quantities of hazardous materials shipped by air may be eligible for exceptions under §§ 173.4a (excepted quantities) or 173.4b (de minimus exceptions). However, although a residue of oil remains on the bird feathers, it is the opinion of this Office that the packaging method used for shipment of the bird feathers is sufficient to mitigate the minimal hazard present during the course of transportation. Therefore, provided there is no free liquid in the plastic bag, or there is sufficient absorbent material in the outer packaging to absorb any release of free liquid from the plastic bag, shipments of the bird feathers with surface residues of oil using the packaging method described in your letter and illustrated in the photographs are not subject to the HMR.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact this office.


Charles E. Betts

Chief, Standards Development

Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.4 Small quantities for highway and rail