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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 #11-0027 ([The Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles, Inc.] [Mr. Thomas W. Ferguson])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: The Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Thomas W. Ferguson

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

April 11, 2011




Thomas W. Ferguson, DGSA

Technical Consultant

The Council on Safe Transportation

of Hazardous Articles, Inc.

7803 Hill House Court

Fairfax Station, VA 22039

Reference No. 11-0027

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

This is in response to your February 3, 2011 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to closure instructions. You presented a transportation scenario and ask how these requirements apply to a company that does not fill or close a package but only reoffers it for transportation? Your scenario is paraphrased and addressed below.

In your letter, you state a packaging manufacturer of a UN 4G fiberboard box with four inner plastic containers produces closure instructions for the packaging that clearly indicate the proper way to close each inner container (using the tops and seals provided), how to place each inner container in the outer packaging (with cushioning), and how to seal the outer packaging (using the tape provided). The manufacturer then sells and ships the packagings to Company A. Company A fills the inner packagings with an authorized hazardous material for the packaging, properly closes the inner and outer packagings, and subsequently ships the completed package to Company B. Company B is a storage and reseller company. It does not open or alter the package. Company B receives an order from Company C for the hazardous material and ships the package to Company C for its eventual use.

You state it is your organization"s understanding that the closure notification requirements prescribed in § 178.2(c) require the packaging manufacturer to prepare the closure instructions and provide them to Company A, the company that fills and closes the package, in either an electronic format or permanently printed or embossed on the packaging. You also state it is your organization"s understanding that Company A must retain a copy of closure instructions and make them available for inspection for 365 days from the date the package is offered for transportation, but that Company B is not required to do this because the package was never opened.

Your understanding is correct. As specified in § 178.2(c)(i)(A), closure instruction notification is required to inform the user of a hazardous materials packaging of all the requirements the packaging does not meet at the time of transfer. A completed package that is properly closed meets all the requirements contained in its closure instruction notification at the time it is offered for transportation. The reuse provisions in § 173.28(a) require that all packagings and receptacles used more than once be in such condition, including closure devices and cushioning materials, that they conform in all respects to the HMR. Therefore, provided the package is not opened and continues to meet its performance standard, the HMR do not require the person who received the package and is re-offering it for transportation to retain its closure instructions as prescribed in § 173.22(a)(4). In addition, please note that effective October 1, 2010, the time period for retaining the closure instructions prescribed in § 173.22(a)(4) was revised to 12 months for single or composite packagings and 24 months for combination packagings in response to an appeal to the February 2, 2010 final rule. This change was published in a second final rule issued under Docket No. HM-231 on September 30, 2010 [75 FR 60333]. The appellant has since requested that we rescind this change and reinstate the 365 day retention requirement. We will consider this change in a future rulemaking.

I hope this satisfies your request.


T. Glenn Foster

Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch

Standards and Rulemaking Division

178.2(c), 173.22, 173.28

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.22 Shipper's responsibility