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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 #15-0013 ([Pinnacle Propane] [Mr. Kyle Sparks])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Pinnacle Propane

Individual Name: Mr. Kyle Sparks

Location State: NM Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 18, 2015

Kyle Sparks
Pinnacle Propane
2825 Pecos Highway
Carlsbad, NM   88220

Ref. No. 15-0013

Dear Mr. Sparks:

This responds to your January 15, 2015 email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  Specifically, you ask for clarification of the placarding requirements for a propane tank trailer used to move ASME domestic propane storage tanks ranging in size from 100-gallon capacity to 1,200 gallon capacity.

You state that the trailer is unloaded (i.e., the tank is removed) and remains placarded even though there is no hazardous material present.  Additionally, there are no identifying markings or inspections on the trailer or motor vehicle pulling the trailer. You believe this is in violation of the HMR and the FMCSA requirements.  Finally, you include photographs to illustrate the scenario described.

In accordance with § 172.502 (prohibited and permissive placarding), no person may affix or display a placard on a motor vehicle unless the material offered is a hazardous material and the placard represents the hazard of material.  Thus, if there is no hazardous material on the trailer, it may not be placarded.  However, the placarding requirements for hazardous materials apply to transportation subject to the HMR.

Section 171.1(d) specifies functions that are not subject to the requirements of the HMR.   As defined in § 171.8, “transportation” means the movement of property and loading, unloading, or storage incidental to that movement.  For a private motor carrier, transportation in commerce does not begin until the motor vehicle driver takes possession of the hazardous material for the purpose of transportation.  Transportation continues until the driver relinquishes possession of the hazardous material at its destination and is no longer responsible for performing functions subject to the HMR (see § 171.1(d)).  

Based on the photographs and information you provided, it is the opinion of this Office that the trailer (and motor vehicle) is not in transportation.  It appears to be on a private facility and not in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to the HMR including any hazard communication elements such as prohibited placarding.  

I hope this answers your inquiry.  If you need additional assistance, please contact this Office at 202-366-8553.


Dirk Der Kinderen
Acting Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

172.502, 171.1(d), 171.8

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.1 Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
172.502 Prohibited and permissive placarding