So you finally got your RCRA and DOT training and you’re ready to start shipping waste. You learned about appropriate container labeling and how to properly fill out your uniform hazardous waste manifest. One important part of your training should have been making sure your chemical waste is contained in a “specification” packaging for the material you are shipping. If you are shipping a DOT-regulated hazardous material, then your drum will have to be “UN-specification” (that’s UN as in United Nations). This means that the drum has been tested to international standards of integrity, such as drop and pressure testing. You can check whether your drum is UN-specification by the UN test marking located on the side or top of the drum. It will have a series of codes in the following configuration:
1H1/Y1.8/150/05/USA/M824 /1.1 mm
Here is how you decode the series:
1H1: Is a packaging identification code designating the container type, material of construction, and in some cases, a characteristic. In this case the notation is saying this is a closed top plastic drum.
Y: Indicates which of the three performance standards has been met which tells the filler which packing group materials (PG I, II, or III) are allowed. X = OK for PG I, II, or III, Y= OK for PG II or III, Z = PG III only
1.8: Designates the maximum specific gravity of the liquid chemical suitable for this drum. In this case, the notation is saying this drum is able to withstand the weight of a liquid with a density up to 1.8 g/cm3. Non- leak proof containers will have a maximum gross mass in kilograms at this spot in the marking.
150: Is the hydrostatic pressure test in kPa. Non-leak proof containers will have an “S” at this spot in the marking. Shippers must select materials with vapor pressures that are not too high- the pressure test marking is used as part of that calculation (see 49 CFR 173.24a(b)(4) for how to calculate).
05: 2005 Production year
USA: Manufactured in the U.S.
M824: This spot is used to indicate, either by name and address, or by the use of a symbol, what party performed the UN- protocol testing.
1.1 mm: On many drums, the minimum thickness of the material of construction is indicated in millimeters (this is required in some cases for the container to be eligible for reuse).
On reconditioned drums, you may also see an abbreviated version of the full series, such as: 1H2/Y25/S
And remember, all UN-specification drums come with a set of closure instructions by the manufacturer to which you much precisely follow and retain a copy of for a period of 1 year after a package is offered for transport.