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Interpretation Response #09-0288

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 01-07-2010
Company Name: American Council of Independent Laboratories    Individual Name: Mr. Milton Bush
Location state: DC    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

January 7, 2010



Mr. Milton Bush
Environmental Science Section
American Council of Independent Laboratories
1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

Ref. No. 09-0288

Dear Mr. Bush:

This responds to your November 30, 2009 letter requesting clarification of the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to the transportation of environmental samples. Specifically, you request confirmation that recent changes made to the HMR do not affect previous guidance provided in letters of interpretation.

In your letter, you refer to changes made to the small quantity exceptions in § 173.4 and adoption of new exceptions for excepted quantities in § 173.4a and de minimus quantities in § 173.4b and request confirmation that the clarification provided in our letters Ref. No. 98-0111 (June 25, 1998); Ref. No. 02-0093 (February 13, 2003); and Ref. No. 08-0222 (October 3, 2008) remain valid. Specifically, you ask for confirmation that environmental samples are not subject to the package testing requirement for excepted quantities found in § 173.4a.

The letters of interpretation remain valid. Changes made to § 173.4 and the adoption of new §§ 173.4a and 173.4b under final rule HM-215J/224D (74 FR 2200, January 14, 2009) do not affect these letters except that changes made to § 173.4 now limit transportation of hazardous materials under the conditions of that section to domestic highway and rail transport. The letters you reference provide clarification of the applicability of the HMR to the classification of environmental samples as hazardous materials. If an environmental sample does not meet the definition of a hazardous material (see § 171.8), then the material is not subject to the HMR including the provisions in §§ 173.4, 173.4a, or 173.4b. If an environmental sample meets the definition of a hazardous material and is intended to be transported by air, then shippers

that elect to transport the material in conformance with the conditions § 173.4a must comply with the package testing requirements in § 173.4a, paragraph (f).

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

173.4a, 173.4b

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 173.4b De minimis exceptions