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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 #11-0085 ([Triumvirate Environmental] [Mr. Thomas Goss])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Triumvirate Environmental

Individual Name: Mr. Thomas Goss

Location State: MA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 12, 2011



Mr. Thomas Goss

Recycling Strategist

Triumvirate Environmental

61 Innerbelt Road

Somerville, MA 02143

Reference No. 11-0085

Dear Mr. Goss:

This is in response to your April 5, 2011 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) concerning whether non-reusable solid-rated hazardous materials packagings may be used multiple times to ship various hazardous materials. We have paraphrased your questions and answered them in the order you provided.

Q1. Do the HMR permit a UN-certified, non-bulk, solid-rated shipping container with an "NRC" marking to be reused multiple times if the container otherwise appears appropriate for multiple reuse?

A1. Under the HMR, there is no specific marking on a "UN" packaging that designates the packaging can be used only one time to ship hazardous materials. Except for packagings made of paper (except fiberboard), plastic film, or textile, which cannot be reused (see § 173.28(b)(3)), non-reusable containers, as this term is defined in § 171.8, marked with the letters "NRC" may be reused to contain any material that is not required to be shipped in a DOT specification or UN standard packaging (see § 173.28(e)). Please note, a reused packaging must be in such condition that it is capable of passing all performance tests represented by the packaging markings. In addition, plastic drums and jerricans used as single packagings or outer packagings of composite packagings are authorized for reuse only when they are marked with a minimum thickness in millimeters in a permanent manner (e.g., embossed) (see §§ 173.28 and 178.503(a)(9)). Prior to rulemakings this agency issued in 1990 and 1991 to align the HMR with international requirements, the letters "STC" (single trip container) and "NRC" (nonreusable container) were used as markings on certain, now obsolete, DOT specification non-bulk packagings that restricted the use of those packagings (see Docket No. HM-181). Currently, the only packaging required to have an NRC marking under the HMR is the DOT 39 cylinder (see § 178.65(i)(2)(ii)).

Q2. Section 173.28(e) contains the statement "A packaging marked as NRC according to DOT specification or UN standard requirements of Part 178 of this subchapter"." However, there do not appear to be any references to the "NRC" marking in 49 CFR Part 178, Subpart L, "Non-bulk Performance-Oriented Packaging Standards." Does that imply that the "NRC" marking is not applicable to this container type?

A2. See Answer A1.

Q3. Is a container manufacturer"s decision to mark the letters "NRC" onto a shipping container based on specific qualifying criteria that is defined by DOT or any other regulatory agency?

A3. In addition to requiring the NRC marking under § 178.65(i)(2)(ii) for a DOT 39 cylinder, the HMR also authorize the transportation of radioactive hazardous materials in packagings approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that include as part of its specification marking the letters "NRC." For further information on these requirements, see § 172.203(d)(7), and the introductory paragraph and paragraph (b) of § 173.471.

Q4. Does § 173.28(e) give container manufacturers overriding discretion to determine whether or not a drum can be reused multiple times for shipments of hazardous material regardless of whether or not a container is appropriate for reuse by all other standards?

A4. Under § 173.28(e), a packaging manufacturer may use his or her discretion to determine if a non-reusable DOT specification or UN standard packaging marked "NRC" may be used multiple times to ship a hazardous material under two conditions. The first is the material being shipped is not required to be in a DOT specification or UN standard packaging. In this instance, a non-bulk drum packaging need only conform to the requirements of §§ 173.24 and 173.24a. The second is the packaging must meet the applicable criteria prescribed in § 173.28 for its design and type.

Q5. Can a container manufacturer grant written approval for ongoing container reuse to a specific container user which overrides a permanent "NRC" indication on a container that they manufacture?

A5. The answer is no. Obtaining written permission to use a container in a manner that is not prescribed in the HMR can only be obtained through issuance of a special permit or approval issued by this agency"s Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety, or other designated U.S. Department of Transportation official. The application process is described in 49 CFR Part 107, Subparts B (Special Permits) and H (Approval).

I hope this satisfies your request.


T. Glenn Foster

Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention

Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.28, 171.8, 178.503(a)(9), 178.65

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.28 Reuse, reconditioning and remanufacture of packagings
178.503 Marking of packagings
178.65 Specification 39 non-reusable (non-refillable) cylinders