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Interpretation Response #19-0070


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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 08-30-2019
Company Name: VEGA Americas, Inc.    Individual Name: Brett Kemphues
Location state: OH    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document


Response text:

August 30, 2019

Brett Kemphues
Radiation Safety Specialist
VEGA Americas, Inc.
4141 Rossyln Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45209

Reference No. 19-0070

Dear Mr. Kemphues:

This letter is in response to your May 31, 2019, letter and subsequent phone conversation requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to Fixed Industrial Nuclear Gauges (i.e., gauges) as radioactive instruments or articles.  Specifically, you indicate that your company is a manufacturer and distributor of these gauges and provide the following details on these gauges:

  • They are used in a number of industries for density, level and weight measurements;
  • They are used to house and shield a Special Form source capsule;
  • As detailed in a subsequent phone conversation, when offered for transportation, the gauges are shipped individually and either placed in a strong outer packaging, such as a box or crate, or affixed to a pallet;
  • During transportation, the gauge strictly serves as a shielded container; and
  • After transportation, the gauge acts as one part of the measurement system when installed and in operation.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask whether the gauge can be considered a radioactive instrument or article, subject to the activity limits in Table 4 of § 173.425 and the excepted packaging requirements in § 173.424.

A1. The answer depends on the type of packaging used to transport the gauge. As defined in § 173.403, a package means "the packaging together with its radioactive contents as presented for transport." Furthermore, paragraph (1) in the definition of "package" indicates that an "Excepted package" means "a package together with its excepted Class 7 (radioactive) materials as specified in §§ 173.421-173.426 and 173.428." When offered for transportation in a packaging such as a box or crate, the box or crate meets the definition of a packaging for an excepted package. However, when the gauge is strapped to a pallet, the pallet is not considered a packaging for the purposes of §§ 173.403 and 173.424. Please note that in both scenarios any hazard communication (i.e., required markings and labels) is required to be placed on the packaging, meaning if shipped on a pallet, the hazard communication is required to be placed on the gauge.

Furthermore, as defined in § 173.403, a radioactive instrument or article means "any manufactured instrument or article such as an instrument, clock, electronic tube, or apparatus, or similar instrument or article having Class 7 (radioactive) material in gaseous or non-dispersible solid form as a component part." Radioactive instruments or articles are classified as "UN2911, Radioactive material, excepted package-instruments or articles, 7," subject to activity limits in § 173.425, and packing requirements in §§ 173.422 and 173.424 (as also identified by the section titles). Therefore, in the scenario when the gauge is shipped in a packaging, it can be classified as "UN2911, Radioactive material, excepted package-instruments or articles, 7," subject to the activity limits in § 173.425 and packaging requirements in § 173.424. Conversely, when strapped to a pallet, there is no packaging for the gauge, and therefore, it does not meet the definition of a radioactive instrument or article within an excepted package.

Q2. You ask whether the requirements of § 173.424 apply to the transportation of the gauge when it does not meet the definition of a radioactive instrument or article (i.e., gauge strapped to a pallet).

A2. The answer is no. Section 173.424 only applies to the transportation of radioactive instrument and articles.

Q3. You ask whether the radiation level limit for any unpackaged instrument or article in § 173.424(d) and the radiation level limit on the external surface of a packaging bearing the instrument or article in § 173.424(f) apply to the transportation of the gauge when it meets the definition of a radioactive instrument or article (i.e., gauge packaged in a strong outer packaging).

A3. The answer is yes. To be offered as a radioactive instrument or article, all of the requirements in § 173.424, including paragraphs (d) and (f), need to be met. To meet § 173.424(d), the radiation level at 10 cm (4 in) from any point on the external surface of any unpackaged instrument or article may not exceed 0.1 mSv/hour (10 mrem/hour), even when the gauge is placed in the strong outer packaging. To meet § 173.424(f), the radiation level at any point on the external surface of a package bearing the article or instrument may not exceed 0.005 mSv/hour (0.5 mrem/hour), or, for exclusive use domestic shipments, 0.02 mSv/hour (2 mrem/hour). If the requirements of § 173.424 cannot be met, the gauge may be shipped under a different description (i.e., UN identification number, proper shipping name, packaging requirements) such as "UN3332, Radioactive material, Type A packaging, special form non fissile or fissile-excepted, 7."

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

Sincerely,

Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.403,173.421-173.426, 173.428, 173.424(d), 173.424(f)


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 173.428 Empty Class 7 (radioactive) materials packaging