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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 #13-0011 ([URS Corporation] [Mr. Andrew N. Romach])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: URS Corporation

Individual Name: Mr. Andrew N. Romach

Location State: NC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 27, 2013



Mr. Andrew N. Romach
Regulatory Compliance Manager
URS Corporation
1600 Perimeter Park Drive
Suite 400
Morrisville, NC 27560

Reference No.: 13-0011

Dear Mr. Romach:

This is in response to your January 8, 2013 letter and follow-up telephone discussions requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  You ask several questions pertaining to § 173.164(a)(5), an exception for mercury lamps, when transported as cargo aboard an aircraft.   This exception was recently codified into the HMR pursuant to a final rule published under Docket HM-215L (78 FR 987), Hazardous Materials: Harmonization with International Standards (RRR).

Section 173.164(a)(5) provides:  When transported as cargo, lamps are excepted from the requirements of this subchapter provided, each lamp contains not more than 1 g of mercury and is packaged so that there is not more than 30 g of mercury per package.  Packages must be so designed and constructed such that when dropped from a height of not less than 0.5 meter (1.5 feet) the packages must still be fit for transport and there must be no damage to the contents.

Your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q1.  The drop test for packages is not specific.  How should the drop test be performed? 

A1.  Although no specific requirements for the test are prescribed, it is our position that the package would have to pass a drop onto a rigid, non-resilient, flat and horizontal surface with the package dropped from an orientation that would most likely result in damage to the package making it unsuitable for transportation or the release of contents from the package.   

Q2.  What does the phrase, "no damage to the contents" mean?

A2.  The general requirement of the HMR is that there would be no damage to the contents that would allow the release of the hazardous materials from the package.

Q3.  If a shipper has numerous lamp product types containing low quantities of mercury that could meet this exception, could a representative package containing the most fragile contents be tested and extrapolate the test results to packages containing comparable or more robust contents?

A3.  Provided all other parameters of the package and its contents remain the same, a test conducted using the most fragile contents would meet the test requirement for a package containing comparable or more robust contents.  However, changes to a package or its contents, such as greater mass, or a change in the configuration or orientation of the contents within the package may affect the outcome of the test.  Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer or shipper to ensure the completed package meets the requirements of the test.     

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


Delmer Billings
Senior Regulatory Advisor
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.164 Mercury (metallic and articles containing mercury)