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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 #18-0043

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Ventura County District Attorney's Office

Individual Name: Mitchel Disney

Location State: CA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Mitchell Disney
Senior Deputy District Attorney
Ventura County District Attorney’s Office

Reference No. 18-0043

Dear Mr. Disney:

This letter is in response to your August 25, 2018, letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to flammable wastes exempt from Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hazardous waste requirements.  Specifically, you ask whether a substance comprised of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Wastes with a flash point of less than 140 ºF meeting the ignitability criteria for “D001 Unlisted Hazardous Wastes Characteristic of Ignitability,” would be regulated by the United States Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and if so, what specific regulatory and enforcement provisions would be implicated.  You further explain the material is transported in bulk packagings exceeding 119 gallons by public highway.  Each vacuum or tanker truck contains between 75 and 120 barrels of hazardous materials, with each barrel carrying 42 gallons of hazardous materials.

In accordance with § 173.22, it is the shipper’s responsibility to properly classify a hazardous material.  This Office does not generally perform that function.  However, based on the information you provided, a material with a flash point below 140 ºF will be subject to the HMR as either a Class 3 flammable or combustible liquid per §§ 173.120 and 173.121.

Bulk packages of Class 3 flammable liquids are fully subject to all the requirements of the HMR. Bulk packaging provisions for Class 3 flammable liquids are prescribed in § 173.243 for Packing Group I and § 173.242 for Packing Groups II and III.  The hazard communication requirements in 49 CFR Part 172, Subparts C through H apply.  In addition, the registration requirements in 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart G of this subchapter also apply.

For domestic transportation, a flammable liquid with a flash point at or above 32 °C (100 °F) that does not meet the definition of any other hazard class may be reclassed as a combustible liquid. The HMR except combustible liquids from certain requirements, as described in § 173.150(f).  Combustible liquids are excepted from specification packaging, but packages must still comply with the general packaging requirements of 49 CFR Part 173, Subpart B.  Specifically, pursuant to § 173.150(f)(3), a combustible liquid that is in a bulk packaging is not subject to the requirements of the HMR except those pertaining to:

  • Shipping papers, waybills, switching orders, and hazardous waste manifests;
  • Marking of packages;
  • Display of identification numbers on bulk packages;
  • Placarding requirements of 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F of this subchapter;
  • Reporting incidents as prescribed by §§ 171.15 and 171.16 of this subchapter;
  • The requirements of §§ 173.1, 173.21, 173.24, 173.24a, 173.24b, 174.1, 177.804, 177.817, 177.834(j), and 177.837(d) of this subchapter;
  • The training requirements of 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart H of this subchapter;
  • Emergency response information requirements of 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart G of this subchapter; and
  • Registration requirements of 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart G of this subchapter.

While this mixture meets the definition of a hazardous material, it would not be considered a hazardous substance or hazardous waste.  The definition of “hazardous substance” in § 171.8 excludes “crude oil or any fraction thereof which is not otherwise specifically listed or designated as a hazardous substance.”  The definition of “hazardous waste” in § 171.8 is limited to materials that require a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest by the EPA under regulations promulgated under the authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  The guidance you reference from EPA exempts producers and transporters from a hazardous waste manifest, and therefore, the HMR requirements specific to “hazardous wastes” would not apply.  However, such an exemption would have no impact on PHMSA’s authority to regulate the transportation in commerce of a hazardous material as defined in § 171.8.

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


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

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.15 Immediate notice of certain hazardous materials incidents
171.16 Detailed hazardous materials incident reports
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.1 Purpose and scope
173.120 Class 3-Definitions