HMR Aligns with 2009 International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safe Transport of Radioactive Material

PHMSA is making changes to the DOT 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations, aligning with the 2009 IAEA standards involving the safe transportation of radioactive material (Safety Requirements, No. TS-R-1). These changes are set forth to ensure public safety aligns with global regulations regarding classification, packaging and hazard communication of Class 7 material. International regulations for the transport of radioactive material have been published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1961.

These regulations have been widely adopted into national regulations, as well as into modal regulations, such as the 49 CFR, IATA and IMDG. Regulatory control of shipments of radioactive material is independent of the material’s intended application.

The objective of the regulations is to protect people and the environment from the effects of radiation during the transport of radioactive material.

Protection is achieved by:

  • containment of radioactive contents;
  • control of external radiation levels;
  • prevention of criticality; and
  • prevention of damage caused by heat.

The fundamental principle applied to the transport of radioactive material is that the protection comes from the design of the package, regardless of how the material is transported. In the USA one percent of the 300 million packages of hazardous material shipped each year contain radioactive materials. Of this, about 250,000 contain radioactive wastes from US nuclear power plants, and 25 to 100 packages contain used nuclear fuel. DOT (PHMSA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) jointly regulate the safe transportation of Class 7 material to, from and within the United States. Harmonization with international regulations enhances safety, reduces cost burdens, and provides relief from multi-national regulatory requirements.

Some of the proposed changes to the HMR include:

  • Removal of 20 and 21PF (phenolic-foam insulated metal overpacks). These Overpacks are no longer authorized in the HMR.
  • Removal of references to 2R (inside containment) vessels in part  §178.358 and  §178.360
  • Revision of part  §172.203(d)(2) specifying that when the material is in “special form” that term be used in the proper shipping name.
  • Placarding for subsidiary hazards-part  §172.402: LSA-Uranium Hexafluoride is inclusive of proper shipping names “non-fissle”, “fissle excepted” and “fissle uranium hexafluoride”
  • Revising the definition of “uranium” to include natural uranium that has not been chemically separated from accompanying constituents.
  • Revision of   §172.203(d)(3) and  §172.403(g) to clarify that the total activity indicated on the shipping paper and label must be the maximum activity during transportation
  • Revise paragraph SEC 173.25(a)(4) to adopt the new TS-R-1 requirement for the marking of all OVERPACKS of Class 7 (radioactive) packages with the word “OVERPACK.”
  • Require that, when it is evident that a package of radioactive material or conveyance carrying unpackaged radioactive material is leaking or suspected to have leaked, access to the package or conveyance must be restricted and, as soon as possible, the extent of contamination and the resultant radiation level of the package or conveyance must be assessed in SEC 173.443. This will more closely align with the requirements in TS-R-1.

Voluntary compliance with PHMSA revisions became effective July 11, 2014, with a full adoption on July 13, 2015.

The full extent of regulatory changes and amendments can be found at:



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