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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 #11-0260 ([W.E. Train Consulting] [Mr. Gene Sanders])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: W.E. Train Consulting

Individual Name: Mr. Gene Sanders

Location State: FL Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

February 21, 2012

Mr. Gene Sanders
Manager, W.E. Train Consulting
8710 W. Hillsborough Ave. #112
Tampa, FL 33615

Ref. No. 11-0260

Dear Mr. Sanders:

This responds to your e-mail regarding clarification of the definition of "offeror" as it applies to "carrier" functions under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask if your understanding is correct that a "carrier" may also be an "offeror." You provided the following examples and questions:

Q1. Example A: A shipper brings a limited quantity package to a carrier for surface shipment (not via air). The carrier notices the outer carton is flimsy, and has a crushed corner. If the carrier has been properly trained in packaging limited quantity shipments, and has a strong outer packaging, may that carrier (regardless of whether a fee is charged or not) re-pack the limited quantity material in the presence of the shipper, prior to acceptance? If the carrier has been properly trained in marking, may that carrier apply the limited quantity mark to the repacked material?

A1. The answer is yes. A person offering a hazardous material, including a residue, for transportation in commerce is responsible for performing the functions of an offeror in compliance with all of the applicable regulations (see §§ 171.2(a) and 173.22). Based on the scenario provided above, if at the shipper"s direction the carrier takes responsibility for performing functions of the offeror, such as marking and re-packing a limited quantity in a strong outer packaging, the "carrier" is responsible for performing those functions in compliance with the applicable regulations. However, it is our opinion that the relationship of the two parties should be clarified in writing (e.g., a contract or exchange of letters) in order to ensure that each is aware of its responsibilities.

Q2. Example B: A shipper brings a marked and labeled package to a carrier, but leaves the emergency response phone number off the shipping papers because the shipper doesn"t have the ability to meet the requirements regarding answering calls 24/7, and doesn"t have a contract with any other person to do so. When the shipper explains the situation to the carrier, the carrier realizes that the hazardous materials is a commonly shipped commodity, sometimes shipped by the carrier themselves, and that the carrier does have a contract with an emergency response company who is already properly prepared to meet the regulatory requirements. Is the carrier already properly trained because of their own shipments allowed to become a second offeror of the shipment, and prepare a new set of shipping papers, compliant in every respect including the emergency response information? If so, may the carrier, acting upon the information provided by the shipper and her/his marked and labeled package, reasonably believe the classification and packing have been performed compliantly, and thus sign the certification on those newly printed shipping papers?

A2. Generally, an offeror of the hazardous material must sign a certification statement on the shipping paper, as required by §172.204(a). As stated in the enclosed formal interpretation published in the Federal Register on June 4, 1988 (63 FR 30411), a carrier violates the HMR when the carrier accepts or transports a hazardous material with actual or constructive knowledge that a package contains a hazardous material which has not been prepared in accordance with the applicable requirements of the HMR. The formal interpretation also clarifies carrier responsibility and the issue of "knowingly and willfully" violating the HMR. A carrier may not accept or transport, including continuing to transport, a package which is not in compliance with the HMR. As in answer "A1," a person, such as a carrier, accepting responsibility for performing offeror functions must perform those functions (e.g., preparing and certifying shipping papers) in compliance with the applicable regulations.

A person who offers a hazardous material for transportation must provide emergency response information and an emergency response telephone number for use in the event of an emergency involving the hazardous material. The telephone number must be the number of the offeror or the number of an agency or organization capable of, and accepting responsibility for, providing detailed information about the hazardous material. Another entity may use your emergency response telephone number by prior arrangement with you and the third-party provider. The emergency response provider may require evidence, such as your company name or registration number, indicating that your company contracted for the emergency response services. An indication of this contractual relationship on the shipping paper will promote linkage between the provider and the person arranging to use the provider's service, ensuring compliance with §172.604.
Accordingly, a person who arranges with an organization to provide emergency response services required by the HMR should ensure that the shipping papers that accompany the shipment include the information necessary to enable the provider to identify the person who has contracted for the services (see §§172.602 and 172.604).

I hope this information is helpful. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us.



Ben Supko
Acting Chief, Regulations Development
Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


171.2(a), 173.22, 172.204, 172.602, 172.604

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.2 General requirements
172.204 Shipper's certification
172.602 Emergency response information
172.604 Emergency response telephone number
173.22 Shipper's responsibility