A Drum is A Drum is A Drum - Or is it? The Difference Between Overpack and Salvage Drums

Published: 19th May 2010
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Have you ever had the issue where you've tried to purchase a drum and saw the style options of Overpack and Salvage? Ever wonder what could be the difference between them? We'll, recently it has become more and more confusing in the marketplace leaving many consumers confused, possibly even purchasing a drum that does not meet the regulations that one must achieve for proper material handling.

Here is the most important thing to remember: a salvage drum is an overpack drum, but an overpack drum can not be a salvage drum. Still confused? Let me explain better.

According to the US Department of Transportation, 49 CFR 171.8 and overpack is "an enclosure that is used by a single consignor to provide protection or convenience in handling of a package or to consolidate two or more packages. Overpack does not include a transport vehicle, freight container, or aircraft unit load device."

Overpacks are used to contain smaller, non-leaking packages. The package within the overpack must not be compromised and be fully sealed. Examples of overpacks are one or more packages placed or stacked on a pallet and then secured by strapping, shrink wrapping or stretch wrapping. Another is when one or multiple packages are placed in a protective outer package such as a box or crate.

Earlier I stated that a salvage drum is an overpack drum. An example of this is when one or more packages are placed in a salvage drum; this then would constitute this shipment as an overpack.

As for salvages drums, they are designed to hold items or packages that are damaged, defective or leaking. These drums are regulated by the DOT (Department of Transportation) 49 CFR 173.3 which further explains what contents are able to be shipped in a salvage drum. Examples of salvage drum shipments would include used sorbents or rags, used to clean or absorb a spill and then transported for proper disposal. It is important to keep in mind that when transporting, the drum must be larger than the item(s) inside the drum itself, thus allowing for safe transporting of the drum and its contents.

Salvage drums can be made of steel, polyethylene, aluminum or metal. All salvage drums, must meet UN specifications for shipments, as well as pass a psi air leak proof test. Also when using salvage drums, the drum itself must be marked "Salvage Drum" or "Salvage." When preparing for transport, certification must accompany the shipment, stating that the drum does in fact meet the requirements of the 49 CFR 173.3. The drum must also have proof it meets the leak proof pressure test. Salvage drums can be used more than once, according to 49 CFR 173.28, but in order to legally reuse a salvage drum for transport, the drum must be leak tested, and if it is shown that its integrity has been compromised, then the drum must be reconditioned prior to reuse.

In laymen's terms, you can ship leaky, defective, hazardous materials, or simple overpacks within salvage drums. But remember, you can not use an overpack drum to ship leaky, defective or hazardous materials.

Seton has a great selection of drums, whether salvage or overpack, for all your disposal and transport needs. For additional information on these items and additional products from Seton, please visit us at www.seton.com.

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