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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 #18-0001

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Washington State Ferries

Individual Name: Manny Perez

Location State: WA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 31, 2018

Washington State Ferries
Attn: Manny Perez, Fleet Safety Coordinator
2901 3rd Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98121-3014

Reference No. 18-0001

Dear Mr. Perez:

This letter is in response to your December 21, 2017, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the transportation of smokeless gunpowder by ferry. You have a patron who rides your ferry to and from his home carrying a 5-pound canister of smokeless gunpowder. You note that there are multiple entries in § 172.101 of the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) for smokeless powder, including:

  • UN0160, Powder, smokeless, 1.1C
  • UN0161, Powder, smokeless, 1.3C
  • UN0509, Powder, smokeless, 1.4C
  • NA3178, Smokeless powder for small arms (100 pounds or less), 4.1

You add that UN0160 and UN0161 have a vessel storage code of "04" and therefore are prohibited from carriage on passenger vessels.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1: You ask if the HMR apply to a private individual transporting smokeless gunpowder by ferry.

A1: The answer is yes. As stated in § 171.1(c)(1), the HMR apply to the transportation in commerce of hazardous materials by vessel (except, as delegated at 49 CFR 1.46(t)). The carriage of a motor vehicle (including a personal motor vehicle) containing a hazardous material on board a passenger ferry vessel is transportation in commerce and therefore is subject to the HMR. In addition, § 176.88 of the HMR states, "The requirements in this subpart are applicable to transport vehicles containing hazardous materials being transported on board ferry vessels and are in addition to any prescribed elsewhere in this subchapter." Lastly, § 176.90 states that a private automobile which is carrying any Class 1 (explosive) material (except permitted fireworks or small arms ammunition) may not be transported on a passenger-carrying ferry vessel unless the Class 1 (explosive) material conforms to the packaging, labeling, marking, and certification requirements of this subchapter. Therefore, as noted in your email, shipments of smokeless powder that carry a vessel storage code of "04" would be prohibited on board vessels unless allowed by special permit.

Q2: Taking into consideration the above information, you ask who is responsible for ensuring the hazardous material being transported in a private vehicle is properly described, classed, and authorized to be transported by vessel.

A2: Under the HMR, the offeror is primarily responsible for properly classifying, packaging, marking, and labeling a hazardous material for transportation in commerce. Nevertheless, Washington State Ferries vessel captain is responsible for accepting transport of the material, stowage and segregation.

Q3: You ask if a hazardous material keeps its original hazard classification once it is sent to a retailer and no longer in a Department of Transportation (DOT) specification packaging.

A3: The answer is yes. The explosive would still retain the classification associated with its original approval and must be shipped in accordance with its original packaging instructions. However, smokeless powder for small arms that has been originally classified as a Division 1.3 or 1.4 hazardous material may be reclassed as a Division 4.1 hazardous material, for domestic transportation by motor vehicle, rail car, vessel, or cargo-only aircraft, provided all the conditions of § 173.171 are met.

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

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.1 Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions
172.101 Purpose and use of hazardous materials table
173.171 Smokeless powder for small arms
176.88 Applicability
176.90 Private automobiles