USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #20-0013

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Railsback Hazmat Safety Professionals LLC

Individual Name: Mr. Rex Railsback

Location State: KS Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 26, 2020

Mr. Rex Railsback
Hazmat Specialist
Railsback Hazmat Safety Professionals LLC
312 Lawrence Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66049-2004

Reference No. 20-0013

Dear Mr. Railsback:

This letter is in response to your February 6, 2020, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the internal visual inspection of painted cargo tanks. Specifically, you ask:

Q1: Does PHMSA's response to question 2, in a previous Letter of Interpretation, dated August 4, 2016, under Reference No. 16-0049, require all painted cargo tanks to have an internal visual inspection in place of the required external visual inspection?

A1: The answer is no. PHMSA's response to question 2 does not require all painted cargo tanks to have internal visual inspections. In the previous letter of interpretation, PHMSA explained that if the paint or coating precludes the proper external visual inspection of the cargo tank as described in § 180.407(d)(1) then an internal visual inspection of those areas affected by the paint or coating would be required.

Q2: If the intention is to require internal visual inspections for all painted cargo tanks, then does the regulatory requirement to paint certain cargo tanks, such as in §§ 173.315(a)(2), note 17 and 178.337 l(d), automatically negate the 5-year and 10-year timelines per § 180.407, for uninsulated or unwrapped cargo tanks?

A2: The answer is no. As stated in A1 above, not all painted cargo tanks are required to be inspected internally in lieu of their required external visual inspections. Therefore, paint does not automatically negate the test and inspection schedule specified in § 180.407(c).

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

173.315(a)(2), 178.337 l(d), 180.407, 180.407(c), 180.407(d)(1),

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.315 Compressed gases in cargo tanks and portable tanks
178.337-1 General requirements
180.407 Requirements for test and inspection of specification cargo tanks