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Interpretation Response #09-0286 ([State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services] [Mr. Jason Hunt])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Individual Name: Mr. Jason Hunt

Location State: WI Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 5, 2010




Mr. Jason Hunt

State of Wisconsin

Department of Health Services

Radiation Protection Section

One West Wilson Street, Room 148

P.O. Box 2659

Madison, Wisconsin 53701-2659

Ref. No. 09-0286

Dear Mr. Hunt:

This responds to your email dated December 3, 2009 requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). You describe a scenario in which a nuclear pharmacy ships radioactive material to nuclear medicine departments. The nuclear pharmacy requires the end users to ship the packaging, "ammo can and empty pigs," back to the nuclear pharmacy in accordance with § 173.421 (Excepted packages for Class 7 (radioactive) materials). Your questions pertaining to this scenario are summarized and answered as follows:

Q1) Are licensees required to perform a survey (exposure or contamination) of "ammo cans" that are shipped back to a nuclear pharmacy in accordance with § 173.421?

No. Section 173.421 requires that the radiation level at any point on the external surface of the package does not exceed 0.005 mSv/hour (0.5 mrem/hr). In addition, the nonfixed (removable) contamination on the external surface of the package must not exceed the limits in § 173.443(a). The shipper must ensure that the package is within these regulatory limits when offered for transportation and transported. This generally implies that it is necessary for the shipper to conduct a survey to ensure compliance. However, this regulation provides the shipper with latitude in their methods of ensuring compliance with the radiation and contamination limits; procedures other than measurements, such as quality assurance and quality control, are acceptable means of ensuring compliance.

Q2) If the contamination exposure of the "ammo cans" exceeds the levels in §§ 173.421(a)(2) and (3) and the licensee does nothing, will the licensee be cited?

It is the shipper's responsibility to ensure compliance with § 173.421. Therefore, if the "ammo cans" exceed the radiation level or contamination limits of § 173.421, they would be in violation of the HMR and could be cited.

Q3) Are licensees in violation of § 171.2 when a nuclear pharmacy requires them to ship empty "ammo cans" as "Excepted packages for Limited Quantities of Class 7 (radioactive) materials?

No. Provided the licensees comply with the requirements of the HMR applicable to Limited Quantity Class 7 (radioactive) materials (see § 173.421).

I hope this answers your inquiry. If you need further assistance, please contact this office at 202-366-8553.


Charles E. Betts

Chief, Standards Development

Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.421 Excepted packages for limited quantities of Class 7 (radioactive) materials