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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 #22-0012

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Regulatory Resources, Inc.

Individual Name: W. A. Winter

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

April 28, 2022

W. A. Winter
Regulatory Resources, Inc.
137 Mill Crossing Ln.
Springtown, TX 76082

Reference No. 22-0012

Dear Mr. Winter:

This letter is in response to your February 23, 2022, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to requirements for specification packagings. Specifically, you request that PHMSA reconsider the response provided in letter of interpretation (LOI) Ref. No. 18-0063 and ask two additional questions related to maintenance and marking of specification packagings.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask whether PHMSA will revise answer "A1" of LOI Ref. No. 18-0063 to state that the HMR requires that the user of the intermediate bulk container (IBC) cover the specification markings when the packaging is used in non-hazardous material service after the packaging’s periodic requalification period has been exceeded.

A1. The original answer remains valid, and we will not issue a revision of LOI Ref. No. 18 0063. A packaging that requires periodic requalification and that has exceeded the requalification period may not be filled with a hazardous material and transported until the required requalification has been completed. A packaging that has exceeded its marked qualification period is clearly no longer an acceptable packaging to fill with a hazardous material and offered for transportation; however, it is not necessarily in violation of § 171.2(g). We suggest that the user cover the specification marking if the packaging is not being used in accordance with that marked specification to avoid the appearance of non-compliance and to prevent future users from mistaking the packaging’s permitted uses.

Q2. You ask whether PHMSA will clarify how a packaging may display a UN or DOT specification marking, yet not meet the requirements of Part 178.

A2. A packaging that does not meet the requirements of its specification may not display a UN or DOT specification marking. However, as noted above, the expiration of a periodic requalification does not—in and of itself—indicate that a packaging no longer meets its specification. Rather, the packaging is no longer authorized for use in hazardous material service until such a time it is requalified to ensure compliance with specification and general packaging requirements. The packaging may not be filled with a hazardous material and transported after the expiration of qualification, but the specification marking is not necessarily required to be covered, obliterated, or obscured once the qualification period has been exceeded. Again, in such circumstances, we suggest that, if a person in possession of a packaging intended to be used for non-hazardous material service, they should cover the specification marking to avoid confusion.

Q3. You ask how a shipper can determine whether a packaging that displays a UN or DOT specification marking can continue to meet the requirements of its specification when it is used for a non-hazardous material that may exceed the limitations for the specification (e.g., caused fatigue that reduced the integrity of the packaging) or was repaired or altered in an impermissible way.

A3. In accordance with § 173.28(a), packagings and receptacles used more than once must be in such condition, including closure devices and cushioning materials, that they conform in all respects to the prescribed requirements of the HMR. Before reuse, each packaging must be inspected and may not be reused unless the packaging is free from incompatible residue, rupture, or other damage which reduces its structural integrity. A person who damages or uses a UN or DOT specification packaging in such a way that the structural integrity of the packaging has been reduced, resells that packaging to another person, and indicates that the packaging is acceptable for use in hazardous material service is in violation of §§ 171.2(j).

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


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

171.2(g), 173.28(a), 171.2(j)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.2 General requirements
173.28 Reuse, reconditioning and remanufacture of packagings