• Requirements for Shipping of Hazardous Materials in Plastic Packaging
  • Daniel Stoehr

    Daniel Stoehr is the owner and sole training provider for Daniels Training Services, a company he began in 2010. He is a trained and knowledgeable EHS professional with more than 25 years of experience with the environmental health and safety regulations at the state and federal level. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science for Natural Resource Management and Environmental Law Enforcement from UW-Stevens Point, he was employed for 6 years with a waste disposal company where his job responsibilities included manifesting, handling, and transporting hazardous waste throughout the Midwest. More recently he was employed for 13 years by an environmental consulting firm where he was exposed to a wide range of Federal and State EHS regulations pertaining to hazardous waste management and hazardous material transportation. Dan has provided training nationwide at seminars, onsite events, webinars and conferences to fulfill the USEPA training requirements for Hazardous Waste Personnel and those of the USDOT/PHMSA for hazmat employees. His goal is to answer questions and put tools — and the knowledge to use them — into the hands of EHS professionals through engaging and interactive training.

  • Jody Smithsays:
    06/01/2018 at 1:35 pm Reply

    49 CFR 173.28 discusses the reuse, reconditioning and remanufacture of packagings.

    Section 7 covers the conditions under which a packaging can be reused and clearly specifies the following: (B) Plastic, provided the packaging is not refilled for reuse on a date more
    than five years from the date of manufacture marked on the packaging in accordance with § 178.503(a)(6) of this subchapter;

    So is it possible to buy plastic drums more than five years old, fill them with product for the first time and not fall subject to this rule?

    • Karensays:
      06/19/2018 at 3:32 pm Reply

      Hi Jody,

      If the drum is truly being used for the first time, then this particular conditional provision would not apply. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the container is suitable for hazardous material shipments.

      Although plastic takes centuries to break down in landfills, it does age–especially when it is stored outdoors or in direct UV light. “Old” plastic becomes brittle and can have a chalky or flakey appearance. When it comes to drums, these and other signs of aging can translate to a container that is much more easily damaged during shipment than a newly manufactured drum would be.

      Even if the container still looks good, there may be another hurdle to overcome before considering the container. All shippers need to have a copy of a valid UN test certificate for the container as well as closure instructions for the container [49 CFR 173.22(a)(2)(ii)]. These documents must reflect the year that the container was manufactured. So, for example, if the year is 2018 and the container was manufactured in 2013, you would need the test certificate and closure instructions from 2013, not 2018. Note also that container manufacturers, pursuant to 49 CFR 180, will specify time limits for their packagings (typically five years) because they know that container materials as well as lid and bung gaskets do age over time. Also, some countries specify that containers more than five years old may not be used to transport hazardous materials.

      As a shipper of hazardous materials, when you sign a manifest, you are certifying that the container that you are using is appropriate for the shipment. That means that the UN certification is appropriate for the material being shipped and that the container will be able to withstand “conditions normally incident to transportation” [49 CFR 171]. In most cases, the few dollars that might be saved by purchasing or using an older container just aren’t worth the risk of a release of product during transport.

      Thank you for an interesting question. Please follow up if you need more information.

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