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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 #12-0237 ([Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc.] [Ms. Karen Scheel])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc.

Individual Name: Ms. Karen Scheel

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 14, 2012

Ms. Karen Scheel
Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc.
1201 Louisiana St. Ste. 1800
Houston, TX 77002

Ref No.: 12-0237

Dear Ms. Scheel:

This is a response to your October 22, 2012 email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 100-185) applicable to incident reporting.  Specifically, you describe a spill of approximately 3 gallons of Sulfuric Acid that occurred during the unloading of a DOT 407 specification cargo tank motor vehicle.  You indicate that in this scenario, the carrier was still present and was working jointly with the consignee to unload the material using a consignee-owned unloading line.  Based on this scenario you ask; if the product is still considered in transportation and who is responsible for completing the Hazardous Materials Incident Report on DOT Form F 5800.1, as required by § 171.16.

As required in § 171.16, each person in physical possession of a hazardous material at the time an incident specified in § 171.16 occurs during transportation (including loading, unloading, and temporary storage) must submit a Hazardous Materials Incident Report on DOT Form F 5800.1 within 30 days of discovery of the incident.  According to § 171.1(c), transportation begins when a carrier takes physical possession of a hazardous material for the purposes of transporting it and continues until the hazardous material is delivered to the destination indicated on a shipping paper, package marking, or other medium.  Furthermore, § 171.1(c)(3) explains that transportation of a hazardous material in commerce includes "emptying a hazardous material from the bulk packaging after the hazardous material has been delivered to the consignee when performed by carrier personnel or in the presence of carrier personnel." 

In the scenario you describe, the material is considered to be in transportation and in the possession of the carrier until delivery to the consignee is complete.  Incidents that occur while the carrier that delivered the hazardous material is observing or participating in unloading operations must be reported by the carrier because the carrier is deemed to be in possession of the hazardous material at that point.  In the scenario you provide, the carrier must complete and submit a DOT incident report.  However, the HMR does not prohibit the consignee from completing and submitting the incident report.

I hope this information is helpful.  If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.


Robert Benedict
Chief, Standards Development
Standards and Rulemaking Division

171.1(c), 171.16

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.1 Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions
171.16 Detailed hazardous materials incident reports