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The Exception From use of the Technical Name for Lab Pack Shipments of Hazardous Waste

The Exception From use of the Technical Name for Lab Pack Shipments of Hazardous Waste

Sometimes when shipping hazardous materials the proper shipping name does not adequately describe the contents of the shipment.  An example of this, found in the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) at 49 CFR 172.101 is the proper shipping name of:  Flammable Liquids, n.o.s. This entry and others like it contain the letter ‘G’ in column 1 of the HMT.  The ‘G’ stands for generic and indicates that one or more technical names must be included with the proper shipping name on the shipping paper and on the package.

An earlier article I wrote addressed the requirement to use the technical name when shipping HazMat, you may read it here.  In this article I will address one of the exceptions for the shipment of hazardous waste in lab packs found in49 CFR 173.12.  The exception provides relief from the requirement to use technical names when shipping lab packs of hazardous waste.

The PHMSA doesn’t define a lab pack, instead it refers you to the Appendix C Glossary of the RCRA Compliance Manual 2011 which defines a lab pack as “Drums filled with many small containers packed in non-biodegradable absorbent materials.”   This type of packaging is most commonly used when a hazardous waste generator – not necessarily a “lab” – has many small containers of hazardous waste for disposal.

49 CFR 173.12(b) first specifically identifies the hazardous wastes that may not take advantage of this exception or any other found in this section, they are:

  1. A material poisonous-by-inhalation
  2. A Division 6.1, Packing Group I material
  3. Chloric Acid
  4. Oleum (fuming sulfuric acid)

It goes on to identify the Class and Division of lab packed hazardous waste that are excepted as long as they are packaged in combination packagings as required by this section (see below) and are shipped for disposal by highway, rail, or cargo vessel, they are:

  • Class 3 Flammable or Combustible Liquid
  • Division 4.1 Flammable Solid
  • Division 4.2 Spontaneously Combustible
  • Division 4.3 Dangerous When Wet
  • Division 5.1 Oxidizer
  • Division 5.2 Organic Peroxide
  • Division 6.1 Poison
  • Class 8 Corrosive
  • Class 9 Miscellaneous

What are the combination packaging requirements of this section that must be used if the hazardous waste lab packs are to utilize the exception?  Well, briefly…

The inner packaging must either be glass of ≤4 L (1 gal) rated capacity or metal or plastic of ≤20 L (5.3 gal) rated capacity.  Inner packagings of liquids must be surrounded by a chemically compatible absorbent material sufficient to absorb the liquid contents.

The outer packaging may contain only one Class of waste material, may not contain incompatibles (ie. acid and base, some organic and inorganic, etc.), and it must be a type of packaging listed in 49 CFR 173.12(b)(2)(ii).  Note that the US EPA land disposal restrictions at 40 CFR 268.42(c) limit the packaging/container you may use if the entire lab pack is going straight to landfill or incineration.  Also The gross weight of the combined packaging (inner & outer packaging, absorbents and contents) may not exceed 205 KG (452 lb).

So, before you prepare a lab pack of hazardous waste for off-site shipment, ask yourself, “Is it…

  • not a prohibited material?
  • an authorized Class or Division?
  • to be shipped by highway, rail, or cargo vessel?
  • packaged in compliance with combination packaging requirements of 49 CFR 173.12(b)(2)(ii)?

If you answered yes to all of the above, then you may take advantage of the following exceptions:

  1. A generic description from the Hazardous Materials Table may be used in place of specific chemical names, when two or more chemically compatible waste materials in the same hazard class are packaged in the same outside packaging.  This means that a combination packaging containing several containers of sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acid can utilize the proper shipping name of:  Waste Corrosive Liquids, n.o.s.  Read here for an explanation of when to use the word “waste” with a proper shipping name.
  2. You need not include the technical name(s) on the shipping paper or on the package even if there is a ‘G’ in column 1 of the HMT for that proper shipping name.

But, as Columbo used to say, “Just one more thing…”  If the hazardous waste is also a hazardous substance(defined at 49 CFR 171.8), then it must be described as required in 49 CFR 172.203(c).  Which means you need to make sure the name of the hazardous substance and the letters ‘RQ’ are included with the proper shipping name on the shipping paper and the package.

To learn more about shipping hazardous waste, hazardous substances, hazardous materials, and all the requirements of a HazMat Employee, attend one of my training events.  My training also covers the US EPA training requirements for generators of hazardous waste.  You can complete both of these training requirements in one day.

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