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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 #10-0182 ([J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.] [Mr. Thomas Ziebell])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Thomas Ziebell

Location State: WI Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

February 14, 2011




Mr. Thomas Ziebell

Senior Hazmat Editor

J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

P.O. Box 368

Neenah, WI 54957

Reference No. 10-0182

Dear Mr. Ziebell:

This is in response to your e-mail requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the requirements for Class 3 combustible placards displaying identification numbers. You submitted three examples of placards and ask which one is in conformance with the HMR. Specifically, you ask whether the combustible placard should display a color in the outer border. You cite a 1991 letter of interpretation from this Office to J.J. Keller stating that the lower inner border as shown in the pictorial you submitted at that time should be eliminated. You further state that you were informed by members of our staff in subsequent telephone conversations in 1992 that of the three examples of placards that you submitted to them, Example B was the correct combustible placard and that Example C was not correct. You ask us to confirm these responses.

The 1991 letter of interpretation addressed rail transportation and we stated that the lower inner border of the combustible placard must be eliminated for transportation by rail. Section 172.332(c)(4) specifies:

"For a COMBUSTIBLE placard used to display an identification number, the entire background below the white background for the identification number must be white during transportation by rail and may be white during transportation by highway."

Therefore, the answer given in the 1991 letter of interpretation is correct. That is, for transportation by rail, the authorized combustible placard must not display a lower inner border and it must have white as the entire background below the white background for the identification number. As such, the example shown in the pictorial accompanying the 1991 letter would require that the lower inner border be eliminated in order to be in compliance with the HMR for transportation by rail.

With respect to your 1992 telephone conversations with members of our staff, you asked them whether color may be displayed in the outer border of the combustible placard below the white background for the identification number. You were told that Example B without the border was in compliance with the HMR and that Example C with color in the outer border was not in compliance. This answer is also correct.

For your information, Example "A" is authorized if it meets the provisions of § 172.519(b)(2) or is used for transportation by highway (also see § 172.332(c)(4) above). Section 172.519(b)(2) specifies:

"The dotted line border shown on each placard is not part of the placard specification. However, a dotted or solid line outer border may be used when needed to indicate the full size of a placard that is part of a larger format or is on a background of a non-contrasting color."

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact this office should you need additional assistance.


T. Glenn Foster,

Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch

Division of Standards and Regulations

172,332, 172.519


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.332 Identification number markings
172.519 General specifications for placards