When Can I Use UN3363?
What does one do when there is device or piece of equipment (“apparatus” or “machinery”) that is not intended to consign dangerous goods or hazmat (DG) specifically, but requires a certain quantity as part of its function or as a residue from earlier use or testing?
Many consignors can take advantage of UN3363, Dangerous Goods in Machinery (or Dangerous Goods in Apparatus), Class 9 – with (depending on the mode) a potential relaxation of packaging, marking, and documentation requirements.
There are basic conditions that must be met, however, to use this entry. Restrictions on using this entry exist in special provisions (SP) or packaging requirements in national and modal regulations.
Function – Not “Deus EX Machina”
This term is derived from the classical theatre world- but could represent an effort to use a “loophole” or take advantage of an unintended provision – for a discussion of the term see:
The apparatus or machinery’s primary function cannot be to “deliver” the DG in question. That is the item must have a purpose other than solely to act as a container to get the DG to the destination; and it must not be intended that the DG is discharged from the item.
Exclusions – Wisdom Begins in Calling Things by Their Proper Name
… with apologies to Confucius
Any article which has an appropriate UN number/shipping name already assigned must be shipped under that description rather than UN3363. Examples would include airbag inflators (“safety devices”), engines, vehicles, lithium batteries in equipment, radioactive instruments, chemical kits, etc.
Quantity – Enough is Enough
The dangerous goods within the machinery or apparatus must have a listed “limited quantity” (LQ) amount and cannot exceed this quantity within the device. Particular regulations (e.g., IATA DGR PI 962, 49 CFR 173.222) may restrict the quantity per package or per item to an amount less than the LQ.
The standard conditions of being contained in such a way that there will not be a release in transit, nor a hazardous reaction if multiple DG are present in the same item, must also be met.
When UN3363 Just Won’t Work
Provisions exist in national regulations for shipping specific types of machinery or equipment that contain DG without resorting to UN3363. Often these special cases or exceptions do not limit the quantities of DG as severely- e.g., TDGR special cases for operation of a vehicle, emergency equipment, refrigerating machines, fire extinguishers, etc.; or similar 49 CFR exceptions for “materials of trade”.
These special cases/exceptions tend to apply for domestic, surface transport.
Specific dangerous goods with their own UN number listing may also have SP exemptions (e.g. engines, vehicles, equipment with installed low-powered lithium batteries).
There is also the possibility, under a national equivalency certificate or special permit program, to petition for some relief on UN3363 restrictions if a solid case can be made for equivalent safety.
International modal regulations (i.e., air-ICAO TI/IATA DGR and ocean-IMDG Code) tend not to provide the same degree of leeway in giving specific exceptions or allowing LQ indices to be exceeded. The IMDG Code, unlike ICAO/IATA, does provide for exceeding the LQ limit if the competent authority gives approval as referenced in SP301 of the Code.
The benefits and pitfalls of this useful classification illustrate the importance of following through the special provision/exception provisions before deciding on the appropriate description for your DG/Hazmat.