USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #11-0040 ([U.S. Department of Energy Office of Packaging and Transportation] [Mr. James M. Shuler Manag])

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 Office of Packaging and Transportation

Individual Name: Mr. James M. Shuler Manag

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 25, 2011



Mr. James M. Shuler

Manager, DOE Packaging Certification Program

U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Packaging and Transportation

EM-45, CLOV-2047

1000 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20585

Ref. No. 11-0040

Dear Mr. Shuler:

This responds to your letter dated February 16, 2011, regarding the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to the Department of Energy"s (DOE) National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) response asset teams including, but not limited to, the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP), the Nuclear Radiological Advisory Teams (NRAT), the Accident Response Group (ARG), and the Joint Technical Operations Teams (JTOT), when performing its Nuclear/Radiological Detection, Search and Consequence Management mission (NRDSCM)-directed activities.

In your letter, you state the DOE/NNSA Federal response asset teams are made up of both government and contractor employees who work under the direction of the Lead Federal Agency (LFA) (typically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)). Additionally, you state the DOE/NNSA government and contractor personnel, in the performance of their official duties, routinely transport regulated hazardous materials in DOE vehicles, across state lines, and on public or private property or highways. You ask whether the HMR apply differently to DOE/NNSA government personnel and government contractor personnel response asset team activities.

For contract employees, the answer is yes. In general, any person who transports a hazardous material in commerce or causes a hazardous material to be transported in commerce is subject to the Federal hazardous material transportation law (Federal hazmat law), 49 U.S.C. §§ 5101-5127, and the HMR. 49 U.S.C. § 5103(b). The term "commerce" means transportation that is or affects interstate trade or traffic. 49 U.S.C. § 5102(l). Thus, a "person" who, under government contract, transports or causes a hazardous material to be transported in commerce is subject to the HMR (see § 171.1(b)). The "[t]ransportation of a hazardous material in a motor vehicle, aircraft, or vessel operated by a Federal, state or local government employee solely for noncommercial federal, state or local government purposes" is not subject to the HMR (see § 171.1(d)(5)) (emphasis added).

The HMR do not apply to transportation that is entirely on private property and neither follows, nor crosses, a public way. Property is regarded as private if public access is legally and actually restricted from the area where transportation occurs (see § 171.1(d)(4)). Additionally, transportation of a hazardous material for national security reasons under the conditions specified in § 173.7(b) is not subject to the HMR.

I trust this satisfies your inquiry. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster

Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch

Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.1 Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions