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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 #10-0001 ([U.S. Department of Energy] [Ms. Dana Willaford])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: U.S. Department of Energy

Individual Name: Ms. Dana Willaford

Location State: TN Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 18, 2010




Ms. Dana Willaford

Transportation Safety

U.S. Department of Energy

P.O. Box 2001

Oak Ridge, TN 37831

Ref. No. 10-0001

Dear Ms. Willaford:

This responds to your email dated December 30, 2009 requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to placarding requirements for Class 7 (radioactive) materials. You request clarification of a letter of interpretation that was issued November 24, 2009 (Ref. No. 09-0231). Your questions are summarized and answered as follows:

Q1) The PDF file on the PHMSA website did not include the complete incoming letter from Mr. Rodney Johnson requesting clarification. Can you please provide a complete copy of the incoming request from Mr. Johnson?

A1) The complete incoming letter from Mr. Rodney Johnson along with our response (Ref. No. 09-0231) is attached. In addition, we have updated our website to include the complete incoming letter.

Q2) Please clarify the statement in your letter, "Thus, the package or unpackaged Class 7 (radioactive) material must display either the Class 7 (radioactive) placards or the appropriate labels to comply with the placarding requirements of Subpart F of Part 172." I interpret this statement to mean that "appropriate labels" are the required labels. Section 173.427(a)(6)(vi) provides for an exception to package labeling when the package is marked as required. Therefore, no labels are required when LSA/SCO shipments are conducted as "exclusive use" shipments in accordance with § 173.427(a)(6)(vi).

A2) LSA and SCO shipments consigned as "exclusive use" in accordance with § 173.427(a)(vi) are excepted from the requirement to label the packages. The shipper is not required to take advantage of this exception; and, in some circumstances may apply labels in place of placards (see § 172.514(c)) to satisfy the placarding requirements in Subpart F of Part 172.

Q3) Section 172.514(a) requires placards to be affixed as specified for the material in §§ 172.504 and 172.505. Section 172.504 requires placards for Class 7 materials only under two conditions:

1. When a shipment contains a packaging that is required to bear a Radioactive Yellow III label; or,

2. LSA/SCO shipments transported as "exclusive use" in accordance with §§ 173.427(b)(4) and (5) or (c).

My understanding is that § 173.427(a)(6)(vi) excepts LSA/SCO shipments conducted under "exclusive use" provisions from labeling. Section 173.427 requires vehicles carrying LSA/SCO as "exclusive use" in accordance with § 173.427(a)(6) to bear placards. Since labels are not required on radioactive materials packagings properly prepared as specified in § 173.427(a)(6), a placard is not required on the packaging. However, the transport vehicle must be placarded. Is this interpretation correct?

A3) No. Section 172.504 (Table 1, Footnote 1) requires placards to be applied to bulk packages and transport vehicles containing LSA/SCO transported as "exclusive use" in accordance with §§ 173.427(b)(4) and (5) or (c). Thus, placards are required on the packages for such shipments whether or not labels are required. Placards must also be affixed to the transport vehicle, however, § 172.516 provides that the requirement to placard a motor vehicle may be met by the placards displayed on a freight container or portable tank loaded on a motor vehicle. For other types of bulk packages, placards must also be displayed on the motor vehicle.

Q4) Could you clarify the statement in your letter that specifies placarding "unpackaged material"? I cannot find any requirement in Part 172 that addresses placarding unpackaged material.

A4) Section 172.504(e), Table 1 (Footnote 1) requires Radioactive placards for "exclusive use" shipments of LSA/SCO transported in accordance with § 173.427(c). Section 173.427(c) authorizes LSA-I and SCO-I to be transported "unpackaged". Thus placards are required for unpackaged LSA-I and SCO-I transported as exclusive use in accordance with § 173.427(c).

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


173.427(a)(6)(vi), 172.504(e)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.427 Transport requirements for low specific activity (LSA) Class 7 (radioactive) material and surface contaminated objects (SCO)