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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 #16-0004 ([Texas Department of Public Safety] [Trooper Kelly F. McClatchy])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Texas Department of Public Safety

Individual Name: Trooper Kelly F. McClatchy

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 1, 2016

Trooper Kelly F. McClatchy
Texas Department of Public Safety
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement
2405 S Loop 250 W
Midland, TX 79703

Reference No. 16-0004

Dear Trooper McClatchy:

This letter is in response to your January 7, 2016 email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171–180) applicable to special permits for intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and portable tanks with a reduced capacity.  In your letter, you explain that “Treater Trucks” are commonly operated by the oil industry under special permits, such as DOT SP-13027, DOT-SP 11947, and DOT-SP 8627 that allow 60 gallon non-specification containers to be manifolded and used as portable tanks or IBCs.  You enclosed photographs as examples.  Your questions, which pertain specifically to the marking and placarding requirements for these packagings, have been paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q1. Can a special permit change the definition of a packaging with a non-bulk capacity into a bulk package?

A1. The answer is yes.  Special permits may authorize relief from any requirement in the HMR, provided the applicant demonstrates an equivalent level of safety to that intended by the regulation.  A bulk packaging as defined in § 171.8 has “a maximum capacity greater than 450 L (119 gallons) as a receptacle for a liquid” or a maximum net mass greater than 400 kg (882 pounds) and a maximum capacity greater than 450 L (119 gallons) as a receptacle for a solid.”  

Section 171.8 includes “a bulk packaging” as part of the definition of a “portable tank.”  Therefore, portable tanks cannot be manufactured with a capacity of less than 119 gallons when intended to contain liquids without a special permit.  DOT-SP 8627 authorizes the transportation of certain materials in “multiple non-DOT specification portable tanks or IBCs manifolded together within a frame.”

The design standards for composite IBCs, such as UN31A in § 178.707(d) specify the volumetric capacity may not be less than 450 L (119 gallons).  DOT-SP 13027 and DOT-SP 11947 authorize “the manufacture, marking, sale, and use of multiple non-UN standard containers conforming to all regulations applicable to a UN31A intermediate bulk container” except for conditions specified within the special permit.  

All three special permits provide relief from the 119-gallon minimum volumetric capacity for liquids in bulk packagings by authorizing a 60-gallon capacity for the IBCs and/or portable tanks meeting the requirements in the special permits.  Therefore, the holders of these special permits should apply the regulations for the appropriate bulk package type, unless otherwise specified in the special permit.

Q2. In the attached photographs, a Treater Truck operating under DOT-SP 13027 has placards with the identification number displayed on at least two opposing sides of the manifolded unit.  Neither the front nor end of the unit is visible in the photographs.  You ask whether this configuration meets the marking and placarding requirements.

A2. The answer is yes, provided the front and end of the transport vehicle meet the requirements for placard visibility as specified in § 172.516.  Paragraph 8.f. of DOT-SP 13027 stipulates “marking and placarding requirements specified for cargo tanks in 49 CFR Subparts D and F must be met.”  Therefore, the marking and placarding requirements for cargo tanks must be applied to these IBCs, irrespective of packaging-type definition.  Display of the identification number on the placard is one method that fulfills the marking requirements for cargo tanks specified in § 172.332.  Section 172.328(a) provides additional marking requirements for cargo tanks and permits one identification number to be displayed on each side and each end of a multi-compartmented cargo tank containing only one hazardous material.

Q3. In the attached photographs, a Treater Truck operating under DOT-SP 8627 shows a Class 3 placard without an identification number on each side of the manifolded unit.  Neither the front nor the end of the unit is visible in the photographs.  You ask whether this example meets the marking and placarding requirements or whether the identification number must also be displayed.

A3. DOT-SP 8627 neither specifies requirements nor provides additional relief related to markings, labels, or placards.  Therefore, the containers must be marked and placarded in accordance with the requirements for a portable tank or IBC, as appropriate.  Under § 172.331(c), the transport vehicle must be marked on each side and each end with the identification numbers in the appropriate orange panel, placard, or white square-on-point configuration as required by § 172.332.  Thus, while individual containers may utilize options for various marking configurations under subpart D of part 172, both the identification number and placards must still be visible from the sides of the vehicle.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.  


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division
171.8, 178.707(d), 172.516, 172.328(a), 172.332, 172.331(c)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
172.328 Cargo tanks
172.331 Bulk packagings other than portable tanks, cargo tanks, tank cars and multi-unit tank car tanks
172.332 Identification number markings
172.516 Visibility and display of placards