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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 #23-0085

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Texas Highway Patrol

Individual Name: Dustin Henderson

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

February 21, 2024

Dustin Henderson
Texas Highway Patrol
1600 West Loop 306
San Angelo, TX 76904

Reference No. 23-0085

Dear Trooper Henderson:

This letter is in response to your September 12, 2023, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to intermediate bulk container (IBC) markings and proper shipping names. Specifically, you ask several questions about improper IBC specification markings and the order of “qualifying words” in a proper shipping name.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask whether an IBC is considered a non-specification packaging if part of the package marking required by § 178.703 is missing or does not conform to the requirements of the HMR. Examples provided in your email include a missing "1" or "2" code, indicating whether the IBC is a flexible or rigid package; a missing "X", "Y", or "Z" code, indicating the packing group rating; a package marking smaller than the 12 mm minimum size; and an incorrect specification code, specifically that the code indicates the IBC is composite when it is actually steel.

A1. The answer is no. An IBC manufactured in accordance with the requirements of Part 178 subparts N and O is considered a United Nations (UN) specification IBC if it meets all the applicable manufacturing requirements of Part 178 and continuing qualification requirements in Part 180. In accordance with § 178.2(a)(2), marking of a packaging with the appropriate Department of Transportation (DOT) or UN markings is the certification that: (1) all requirements of the DOT specification or UN standard—including performance tests—are met; and (2) all functions performed by—or on behalf of—the person whose name or symbol appears as part of the marking conform to requirements. An incorrectly marked packaging is a source of confusion and must be corrected upon discovery. A packaging used to transport hazardous material in commerce with an uncorrected error in the package marking is in violation of the HMR; however, it does not necessarily mean the packaging is a "non-specification" packaging. An error in the specification marking is not equivalent to physically removing the marking or securely covering the marking to disassociate the packaging for the marking that represents it as a DOT or UN specification packaging.

Q2. You ask whether "mixture," "solution," "liquid," "solid," "molten," and "stabilized" are the only qualifying words recognized in the HMR. You note that § 172.101(c)(4) makes the sequence of qualifying words in a proper shipping name optional, although the order presented in the § 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) may be the preferred order.

A2. The answer is no. The HMR neither defines nor limits to a specific list of "qualifying words." However, it is the opinion of this Office that qualifying words include descriptors that modify the primary chemical name or identifier in the § 172.101 HMT. Therefore, there are other qualifying words besides those noted in § 172.101(c)(16) and (c)(17). Additional examples of qualifying words include, but are not limited to, "compressed," "dry," "anhydrous," "hydrate," and "wetted."

Q3. For the HMT entry "UN3286, Flammable liquid, toxic, corrosive, n.o.s., 3 (6.1, 8), PG II", you ask whether the words "toxic" and "corrosive" are qualifying words and therefore may be used in either order.

A3. The answer is no. In this HMT entry, the words "toxic" and "corrosive" are not "qualifying words,"—see for example authorized qualifying words addressed in answer A2 of this letter and in § 172.101(c)(10), (c)(16), and (c)(17)—rather they identify the subsidiary hazards for the material as determined by the relevant classification criteria of the HMR. In the HMT entry described above, the proper shipping name must be written in the order as it appears in the HMT: "Flammable liquid, toxic, corrosive, n.o.s."

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


Shane C. Kelley
Standards and Rulemaking Division

172.101, 172.101(c)(4), 172.101(c)(10), (c)(16), and (c)(17), 178.2(a)(2), 178.703

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.101 Purpose and use of hazardous materials table
178.2 Applicability and responsibility
178.703 Marking of IBCs