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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 #20-0075

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Polsinelli

Individual Name: Mr. Sean M. Pluta

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 7, 2020

Mr. Sean M. Pluta
1401 I St NW
Washington, DC  20005

Reference No. 20-0075

Dear Mr. Pluta:

This is in response to your September 10, 2020, letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to solid materials that may become liquid during transportation.

In your letter, you state that you represent a client who has a solid substance with a melting point of 25.6°C to 29°C. You state that the solid substance will be stored and transported in climate-controlled containers with a temperature range from -5°C to 10°C. The transportation containers will be outfitted with several safeguards to monitor temperatures and, in the event of a loss of temperature control, alert the driver to initiate a response by dispatch. You note that on-loading and off-loading times for the material will be minimal. You ask whether the scenario you describe is in compliance with § 173.24(e)(5), which states that "packagings used for solids, which may become liquid at temperatures likely to be encountered during transportation, must be capable of containing the hazardous material in the liquid state." Additionally, you seek clarification whether the restrictions on the use of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) in §§ 173.240(d)(1)(ii) and (d)(2) apply.

The answer to your first inquiry is yes. The term "temperatures likely to be encountered during transportation" includes temperatures incident to the transportation, or those naturally expected to occur over the course of the planned transportation. These temperatures would also include temperatures incident to on-loading and off-loading the product (amount of time spent out of climate control, etc.). A transporter does not need to consider unlikely, unplanned scenarios, such as serious accidents or breakdowns leading to a loss in climate control for extended periods of time. The shipping conditions, as described in your letter, appear to be capable of maintaining the hazardous material in a solid state under its normal transport conditions; therefore, the requirements in § 173.24(e)(5) for being capable of maintaining the hazardous material in a liquid state would not apply. In addition, provided the temperature-controlled conditions described in your letter are maintained throughout transportation, the restrictions on the use of IBCs in §§ 173.240(d)(1)(ii) and (d)(2) would not apply.

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

173.24(e)(5), 173.240(d)(1)(ii) and (d)(2)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.24 General requirements for packagings and packages
173.240 Bulk packaging for certain low hazard solid materials