You may be familiar with several hazardous materials such as diesel fuel or kerosene that, depending on their formulation, may have a slightly higher flashpoint than more obvious flammable liquids such as gasoline. However, you may not be aware of the exclusion from full regulation that is allowed for these high-flash materials and how it may be of use to you.
A combustible liquid is defined at 49 CFR 173.120(b)(1) as any liquid that does not meet the definition of any other hazard class and has a flash point of >60˚C (>140˚F) and <93˚C (<200˚F). A flammable liquid is defined at 49 CFR 173.120(a) as a liquid with a flash point ≤60˚C (≤140˚F), or any liquid in bulk packaging with a flashpoint ≥37.8˚C (≥100˚F) that is intentionally heated and transported above its flashpoint (some exceptions).
There are great advantages to shipping a hazardous material as a combustible liquid instead of as a flammable liquid which will be addressed later. However, what are you to do if the flashpoint of your hazardous material is ≤60˚C (≤140˚F), thus making it a flammable liquid by definition? Do you have no choice but to ship it as a flammable liquid? Not necessarily; there is a regulatory exemption [see 49 CFR 173.150(f)] that allows you to reclassify and ship a flammable liquid as a combustible liquid. To do so, your flammable liquid must meet the following conditions:
- Doesn’t meet the definition of any other hazard class.
- To be transported within the U.S. only.
- Has a flashpoint of ≥100˚F and ≤140˚F. Click here for an illustration of these temperature ranges.
- To be transported by rail or highway.
- Is not a flammable liquid that is also an elevated temperature material that has been intentionally heated and is transported above its flashpoint.
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If you are able reclassify your flammable liquid as a combustible liquid, you must research further to see which of the two following options are available to you.
If the combustible liquid is in a non-bulk package and is not a hazardous waste, hazardous substance, or marine pollutant; then it is not subject to any of the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
If the combustible liquid is in a bulk package or is a hazardous waste, hazardous substance, or marine pollutant; then it is still subject to the following requirements of the HMR:
- Shipping papers.
- Placarding (if in bulk only).
- Incident reporting.
- The general packaging requirements of 49 CFR 173, Subpart B.
- Triennial HazMat Employee training.
- Emergency response information.
The only exceptions allowed in Option 2 then are those for package labeling and security plans, not as good as option 1, but better than nothing.
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Perhaps the combustible liquid exemption may be suitable for your operations, perhaps not. If you are able to reclassify your flammable liquid to a combustible liquid and then use Option 1, you will see a significant reduction in your regulatory requirements and related costs. In any event, knowing about this exemption and others can provide you with a more complete knowledge of the Hazardous Material Regulations.