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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 #15-0014 ([U.S. Department of Energy] [Mr. Dennis Claussen])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: U.S. Department of Energy

Individual Name: Mr. Dennis Claussen

Location State: WA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

April 22, 2015

Mr. Dennis W. Claussen
Nuclear Safety Engineer and
Traffic Manager
Richland Operations Office
U.S. Department of Energy
P.O. Box 550, MS AS-17
Richland, WA 99352

Reference No. 15-0014

Dear Mr. Claussen:

This is response to your January 15, 2014 e-mail requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to classifying non-spillable batteries contaminated with Class 7 (radioactive) material that the DOE is preparing for treatment and disposal. You state these batteries contain sulfuric acid and exceed limited quantity levels for radioactive material. We have paraphrased your questions and answered them in the order you provided.

Q1. If the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) considers the above-described batteries to meet the definition of a "solid" as defined in § 171.8, can these batteries be transported in commerce as a surface-contaminated object (SCO) or a Type A radioactive material?

A1. While the radioactive contamination on the batteries may only be present on the external surfaces, the batteries may not be shipped as SCO-I or SCO-II as the potential exists for the batteries to crack during transport with the inner liquid then mixing with the surface contamination. The definition in § 171.8 of solid is, "Solid means a material which is not a gas or a liquid." As the batteries contain liquid, the batteries themselves would not be considered to be solid objects under § 173.403, which defines a surface contaminated object (SCO) as "...a solid object which is not itself radioactive but which has radioactive material distributed on its surface...." If the batteries have less than an A2 quantity of activity, they may be shipped in a Type A package, provided that the package meets the § 173.412(c) requirements for liquid content. The packages would also need to meet requirements for the subsidiary corrosive hazard presented by the sulfuric acid content in the batteries.

Q2. If the USDOT considers these same batteries to meet the definition of a "liquid," as defined in § 171.8, can these batteries be transported in commerce as a low specific activity (LSA) material?

A2. No. To be considered as a LSA material, the radioactive activity would need to be "distributed throughout." Assuming that the contamination is only on the external surfaces, the batteries could not be properly classified as LSA material.

I hope this satisfies your request.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

171.8, 173.403, 173.412(c)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.403 Definitions
173.412 Additional design requirements for Type A packages