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Bulk Packaging Marking, Loading & Unloading

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The glossary at the end of this section gives the meaning of the word bulk. Cargo tanks are bulk packaging permanently attached to a vehicle. Cargo tanks remain on the vehicle when you load and unload them. Portable tanks are bulk packaging, which are not permanently attached to a vehicle. The product is loaded or unloaded while the portable tanks are off the vehicle. Portable tanks are then put on a vehicle for transportation. There are many types of cargo tanks in use. The most common cargo tanks are MC306 for liquids and MC331 for gases.

9.5.1 – Markings

You must display the identification number of the hazardous materials in portable tanks and cargo tanks and other bulk packaging (such as dump trucks). Identification numbers are in column 4 of the Hazardous Materials Table. The rules require black 100 mm (3.9 inch) numbers on orange panels, placards, or a white, diamond-shaped background if no placards are required. Specification cargo tanks must show re-test date markings.

Portable tanks must also show the lessee or owner’s name. They must also display the shipping name of the contents on two opposing sides. The letters of the shipping name must be at least two inches tall on portable tanks with capacities of more than 1,000 gallons and one-inch tall on portable tanks with capacities of less than 1,000 gallons. The identification number must appear on each side and each end of a portable tank or other bulk packaging that hold 1,000 gallons or more and on two opposing sides, if the portable tank holds less than 1,000 gallons. The identification numbers must still be visible when the portable tank is on the motor vehicle. If they are not visible, you must display the identification number on both sides and ends of the motor vehicle.

Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are bulk packages, but are not required to have the owner’s name or shipping name.

9.5.2 – Tank Loading

The person in charge of loading and unloading a cargo tank must be sure a qualified person is always watching. This person watching the loading or unloading must:

  • Be alert.
  • Have a clear view of the cargo tank.
  • Be within 25 feet of the tank.
  • Know of the hazards of the materials involved.
  • Know the procedures to follow in an emergency.
  • Be authorized to move the cargo tank and able to do so.

There are special attendance rules for cargo tanks transporting propane and anhydrous ammonia.

Close all manholes and valves before moving a tank of hazardous materials, no matter how small the amount in the tank or how short the distance. Manholes and valves must be closed to prevent leaks. It is illegal to move a cargo tank with open valves or covers unless it is empty according to 49 CFR 173.29.

9.5.3 – Flammable Liquids

Turn off your engine before loading or unloading any flammable liquids. Only run the engine if needed to operate a pump. Ground a cargo tank correctly before filling it through an open filling hole. Ground the tank before opening the filling hole, and maintain the ground until after closing the filling hole.

9.5.4 – Compressed Gas

Keep liquid discharge valves on a compressed gas tank closed except when loading and unloading. Unless your engine runs a pump for product transfer, turn it off when loading or unloading. If you use the engine, turn it off after product transfer, before you unhook the hose. Unhook all loading/unloading connections before coupling, uncoupling, or moving a cargo tank. Always chock trailers and semi-trailers to prevent motion when uncoupled from the power unit.