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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 #13-01637 ([National Association of Chemical Distributors] [Ms. Jennifer Gibson])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: National Association of Chemical Distributors

Individual Name: Ms. Jennifer Gibson

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 3, 2013

Ms. Jennifer Gibson
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
National Association of Chemical Distributors
1555 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22209

Ref. No. 13-0167

Dear Ms. Gibson:

This responds to your August 13, 2013 letter asking if an IBC with its specification markings obscured, permanently attached to a motor vehicle,  meets the definition of a non-specification cargo tank specified in § 171.8 and, therefore, may be discharged while still on the motor vehicle under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  

The answer is no.  A cargo tank is defined in § 171.8 as “a bulk packaging that: (1) Is a tank intended primarily for the carriage of liquids or gases and includes appurtenances, reinforcements, fittings, and closures; (2) Is permanently attached to or forms a part of a motor vehicle, or is not permanently attached to a motor vehicle but which, by reason of its size, construction or attachment to a motor vehicle is loaded or unloaded without being removed from the motor vehicle; and (3) Is not fabricated under a specification for cylinders, intermediate bulk containers, multi-unit tank car tanks, portable tanks, or tank cars.”  

While a specification IBC with its markings permanently obscured, attached to a motor vehicle, would be considered a non-specification bulk packaging, it would not meet the definition of a cargo tank, as that IBC was originally fabricated under the specification for IBCs and must be removed from the motor vehicle prior to discharging under the requirements of the HMR, or such activity would require a Special permit.  PHMSA may consider clarifying the HMR in this respect in a future rulemaking.

I hope this information is helpful.  If you have further questions, please contact this office.


Charles E. Betts
Director, Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations