Answer to Question #10203 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Radioactive Waste Disposal

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


We transport LSA II (low-level radioactive solid and liquid wastes) within the campus (over the public highway) from the laboratories to the storage facility by trained radiation technicians. Based on Department of Transportation (DOT) 49 CFR 173.427, I want to know if we need to placard the vehicle for "closed exclusive use vehicle." Please note there is no consigner and consignee in this case, as we take from different locations, not to a different carrier.


To answer your question, two scenarios need to be considered.

1.   Your facility is a state agency.

As stated in the DOT letter of interpretation #07-0043, a state agency, including a state university, that transports hazardous materials using its own vehicles and personnel does not meet the intent of transportation in commerce as defined in 49 CFR 171.8 and, therefore, is not subject to the requirements of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). Thus, placards are not required because you will be exempt from meeting the HMR (see 49 CFR 171.1(d)(5)).

2.   Your facility is not a state agency.

On the other hand, if your facility is not a state agency or a state university, then the transportation of hazardous materials by employees or contracted personnel is generally considered commercial transportation and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the HMR (DOT letters of interpretation #08-0244 and #08-0268). This includes transportation of hazardous materials on university grounds that are publicly accessible. However, DOT may consider this transportation of hazardous materials to be exempted from the HMR if access to public roads is controlled by a university employee during the time that the hazardous material crosses the public road (DOT letter of interpretation #08-0244). The restriction could be traffic signals, gates, or other road closures (e.g., traffic control by campus police while the vehicles crosses the public road).

Assuming that your facility meets scenario 2 as described above, then the hazardous materials will need to be transported according to the HMR. That is, the radioactive materials must be packaged, labeled, marked, and transported—including shipping papers, vehicle controls if designated exclusive use, placards if designated LSA/SCO (low specific activity and surface contaminated objects), and claiming the marking and labeling exemption described in 49 CFR 173.427(a)(6)(vi) or exclusive-use shipment—as described in the HMR. This also entails that a person performing any task associated with the transportation of hazardous materials is considered a hazmat employee and, thus, subject to the training requirements of 49 CFR 172 Subpart H.

As a precaution mechanism prior to transporting the radioactive materials, I would recommend that you seek interpretation from DOT for your facility-specific conditions and maintain their interpretation for future reference.

Note: You may obtain the DOT letters of interpretation and contact DOT for interpretation on the DOT website.

Hope this helps.

Manuel Diaz

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Answer posted on 17 April 2012. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.