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Interpretation Response #19-0018

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 10-08-2019
Company Name: Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles    Individual Name: Mr.Tom Ferguson
Location state: NY    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

October 8, 2019

Mr. Tom Ferguson
Senior Technical Consultant
Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles
10 Hunter Brook Lane
Queensbury, NY 12804

Reference No. 19-0018

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

This letter is in response to your February 18, 2019, letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to what "a different packaging" means under § 178.601(c)(4). Specifically, you state a shipper purchased UN 4G (fiberboard) box packagings from multiple vendors, found their closure instructions required the packagings use different tapes, and researched whether one tape may be used in place of the others to reduce the costs of maintaining different tapes and shipper training. We have paraphrased your questions and answered them in the order provided.

Q1. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) stated in the Reference No. 17-0121 clarification letter that it is the opinion of its Standards and Rulemaking Division that a wider tape of the same type originally tested (i.e., tensile strength and other relevant properties from industry testing standards) will perform the same when tested or transported as that used on the design qualification tested package. You ask whether PHMSA agrees that a tape of the same or greater width manufactured with "superior properties" (i.e., increased tensile strength of film or adhesion properties) to that specified by the packaging manufacturer for the tape in the UN 4G packaging's test report should perform the same when tested.

A1. The answer is no. Use of tape that is not identical to that used in a previously produced UN standard packaging, including tape with properties that may be improvements such as greater width, increased tensile strength, and/or adhesion, creates a different packaging under the HMR as this term is defined in § 178.601(c)(4). To be authorized for use with the existing UN packaging, tape not used in the originally tested design type must be successfully design qualification tested with the packaging or qualify for one of the selective testing variations authorized under § 178.601(g). Please note, § 178.601(g) provides a series of conditions for the selective testing of packagings that differ only in minor respects from a tested design-type. You did not provide any technical information that supports the successful completion of these design qualification requirements. You may also apply for authorization to use different tapes for the packaging under the terms of a special permit issued by the Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety in conformance with the requirements prescribed in 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart B.

Q2. If a tape differs from that in a DOT specification packaging’s test report but there is "performance data" available showing this different tape will perform in the same manner as that tested and/or transported on the original packaging, you ask whether this performance data may be used to permit use of the different tape without having to perform additional design qualification testing.

A2. The answer is no. See answer A1.

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

178.601(c)(4), 178.601(g).

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 178.601 General requirements