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Interpretation Response #99-0119 ([Department of the Army] [Mr. Vernon E. Vondera])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Department of the Army

Individual Name: Mr. Vernon E. Vondera

Location State: IL Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 10,1999


Mr. Vernon E. Vondera                Ref. No. 99-0119
Chief, Safety Office
Department of the Army
U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and
 Armarment Command
Armament and Chemical Acquisition
 and Logistics Activity
Rock Island, IL 61299-7630

Dear Mr. Vondera:

This is in response to your letter dated May 4, 1999, requesting a clarification of the requirements in 49 CFR 173.443, concerning the control of contamination on the external surfaces of packages of radioactive material offered for transportation.

You state that before the regulations were revised(Docket HM-169A, which became effective on April 1, 1996), the second sentence in § 173.443 (a) read: "The level of non-fixed radioactive contamination may be determined by wiping an area of 300 square centimeters of the surface concerned......,” whereas after April 1, 1996, the wording was changed to: "The level of non-fixed radioactive contamination may not exceed thsfde limits set forth in table 11 and must be determined by either:

    (1)Wiping an area of 300 square centimeters of the Surface concerned .... :         or
    (2)Using other methods of assessment of equal or greater efficiency, in          which case the efficiency of the method must be taken into account:....”

You also state that in 1985 the Department of the Army requested a clarification of § 173.443. You enclosed a copy of RSPA's response, in which we stated "... it is desirable to allow flexibility in the manner of ensuring compliance," and "if a shipper utilizes methods which do not rely on actual wipe samples, such as new packaging material which is protected from on­site contamination, it is acceptable as long as it ensures compliance." You asked if the current regulations allow the same degree of flexibility.

The answer is yes.  Sections 173.443 (a)(1) and 173.443 (a)(2) allow a shipper the same degree of flexibility as before.  The shipper must either make one more wipe measurements and compare the results against the limits in table 11, or use another method of equal or greater efficiency.

As used in § 173.443(a)(2), "efficiency" means either the ratio of a measured value of contamination (such as from a wipe) divided by the actual contamination on the surface of the package, or, in a more general sense, an alternate method which gives the same or greater assurance that the package contamination levels do not exceed the stated regulatory limits.

I hope this information is helpful.  Should you have further questions, please contact us.



Hattie L Mitchell, Chief
Regulatory Review and Reinvention
Office of Hazardous Materials   Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.443 Contamination control