49 CFR 173.28 allows for the reuse, reconditioning, and remanufacturing of non-bulk packagings for the transportation in commerce of HazMat if certain conditions are met. One of the conditions applicable to all three options is the leakproofness test found in §173.28(b)(2) along with exceptions to it in §173.28(b)(7). The purpose of this article is to explain the responsibilities of a Shipper of hazardous materials for the reuse of a packaging subject to leakproofness testing.
First of all, what packagings are required to be leakproofness tested? §173.28(b)(2) reads, “Before reuse, packagings subject to the leakproofness test with air prescribed in §178.604…” shall be retested and remarked.
While this requirement is found solidly in paragraph (b) Reuse of non-bulk packaging and refers specifically to reuse, it also applies to packagings that are reconditioned per paragraph (c) or remanufactured per paragraph (d); though this is not explicitly stated. Applicability to the reconditioning or remanufacturing of packagings is determined as follows:
- Reconditioned: per §173.28(c)(3) a reconditioned packaging must be marked as required by §178.503(c) & (d). Per §178.503(c)(1)(v) every packaging that passed a leakproofness test must be marked with an “L”.
- Remanufactured: §173.28(d) states that the remanufacturer of a packaging is subject to the requirements of part 178 as a manufacturer. This brings us back to §178.503(c)(1)(v) and the requirement to mark packagings that have passed the leakproofness test.
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§178.604(b) also requires leakproofness testing of all subject packagings “before they are first used in transportation” and prior to reuse.
So, if the leakproofness test requirements of §173.28(b) apply to packagings to be reused (b), reconditioned (c), and/or remanufactured (d), and even new packagings, what packagings must be leakproofness tested? Or, as it is written in §173.28(b)(2), “Before reuse, packagings subject to the leakproofness test with air prescribed in §178.604…” What packagings are subject to §178.604? Generally, it includes all packagings intended to contain liquids (11-0073) with two exceptions:
- The outer receptacle of a composite packaging. The inner receptacle may be tested without the outer receptacle if the test results are not affected.
- Inner packagings of combination packagings.
Leakproofness testing is not required for any packaging that is intended to contain solid HazMat.
But not so fast! Let’s jump to §173.28(b)(7) where we read that the leakproofness testing required by §173.28(b)(2) is not required if the packaging to be reused complies with all other requirements of §173.28 and complies with all of the following:
- Is refilled with material compatible with the previous packaging contents.
- Is refilled and offered for transportation by the original filler.
- Is transported in a transport vehicle or freight container under the exclusive use of the refiller of the packaging.
- And is constructed of one of the following:
- Stainless steel, monel, or nickel with a thickness of at least 1 1/2 times prescribed in §173.28(b)(4). Read about Minimum Thickness Requirements of §173.28(b)(4).
- Plastic as long as it is not refilled for reuse more than five years from its date of manufacture which is marked on the packaging per §178.503(a)(6).
- Another material or thickness when approved by USDOT/PHMSA for reuse without testing.
The exception from leakproofness testing at §173.28(b)(7) is intended to apply only to a drum that is in dedicated service and transported in a transport vehicle under the exclusive use of the refiller. “Exclusive use” means that the transport vehicle does not contain any material offered by anyone other than the filler of the drums. (04-0111)
Also note that the exemption from leakproofness testing applies solely to those four types of drums under the specified conditions listed above (i.e. stainless steel, monel, nickel, or plastic). A steel drum – for example – may not take advantage of this exception. (12-0204 and 05-0256)
And one more thing about this exclusion from leakproofness testing: It does not apply to new packagings or to those intended for reconditioning or remanufacturing.
So that’s the packaging that does – and does not – require a leakproofness test. But if one is required, what does it entail? Pursuant to §173.28(b)(2) subject packagings shall be retested without failure according to the requirements of §178.604 which specifies:
- The number of packagings to be tested.
- Special preparations for packaging closures and removable heads.
- Packaging must be restrained under water during testing with certain conditions. An alternate method may be used if it conforms to Appendix B to Part 178 – Alternate Leakproofness Test Methods (01-0177).
- An internal air pressure must be applied as indicated in §173.28(b)(2)(i) – not as indicated in§178.604(e) – for each of the following packing groups:
- Packing Group I: at least 48 kPa (7 psig). This is higher than the pressure required by §178.604(e) for new packagings which is only 30 kPa (4 psi).
- Packing Group II & III: at least 20 kPa (3.0 psig).
Packagings that pass the test must be marked as follows:
- Letter “L”. It’s location on the marking is not specified.
- Name and address or symbol (must be registered with USDOT/PHMSA) of the person conducting the test.
- Last two digits of the year the test was conducted.
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In general, all non-bulk packagings intended for use or reuse of containing a liquid hazardous material are subject to leakproofness testing. Some exclusions from leakproofness testing are allowed for certain packagings intended for reuse according to §173.28(b)(7). Whether excluded or not, all non-bulk packaging intended for reuse must comply with the remaining requirments of 49 CFR 173.28 as well. Read: Reuse of HazMat Packaging.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the transportation of hazardous materials or if you require training for your HazMat Employees.