Guidance for Reporting Packaging Damage and Defects
(updated 10/1/2019 )

This guidance applies only to DOE elements or persons working under contract to DOE elements

DOE elements means programs, operations offices, field/site offices, and other organizational units of the Department of Energy, excluding those of the National Nuclear Security Administration.  The list of DOE elements is posted hereexternal (link to DOE Directives website).

Periodically, the Department of Energy (DOE) Packaging Certification Program (PCP) receives questions by DOE package users related to damaged components of certified Type B or fissile material packagings, that can be summarized as follows:

"What should a registered user do if they are not sure if damage or a defect to a Type B or fissile packaging component is only superficial, as defined in 10 CFR 71.87(b)?"

PCP informally discussed this question with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and US Department of Transportation (DOT) colleagues regarding the following assessment and guidance.

Note - In the ensuing discussion, the requirements for "licensees" in 10 CFR Part 71 is synonymous with and applies to "DOE registered users" of DOE, DOT, and NRC certified packagings (Registered Users).  DOT issues "Competent Authority Certificates" (CAC), for import or export use of Type B or fissile material packages, based on their endorsement of the underlying DOE or NRC certificates or revalidation of a foreign competent authority (foreign) certificate.  

After first use of packaging, one should reasonably expect some superficial defects to the packaging over time from normal use: §71.87(b) addresses these type of defects, "Before each shipment ... The licensee shall determine that-... (b) The package is in unimpaired physical condition except for superficial defects such as marks or dents."   However, the allowance for superficial defects after first use is not extended to closure devices: §71.87(c) "Each closure device of the packaging, including any required gasket, is properly installed and secured and free of defects."

If a licensee (i.e., DOE registered user) is unsure defects or damage to a packaging component is only superficial, prior to package loading or unloading, or during maintenance (i.e., during any package operations from Chapter 7 or maintenance activities from Chapter 8 of the S​afety Analysis Report for Packaging or CoC), they should:

  1. Identify and segregate the item in accordance with their Subpart H Quality Assurance Plan's (QAP) implementation of §71.131, Nonconforming materials, parts, or components,
  2. Notify the certificate holder (Points Of Contact) to evaluate and disposition the component in accordance with certificate holder's QAP implementation of §71.131, and 
  3. Include the certificate holder's documented evaluation and disposition of the component in their QAP implementation of §71.91, Records, system for the packaging serial number.

If the certificate holder's documented disposition is to use the component as-is (accepted) because the superficial defect does not affect the safety feature(s) of the component and does not result in a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the packaging, then the issue is closed.

However, if the component defect is not superficial and therefore is rejected, needs repaired, or reworked, then the licensee (i.e., DOE registered user) will need to make the following notifications per §71.95(a)(1) and/or (2) in accordance with the requirements of DOE Order 460.1D, Hazardous Materials Packaging and Transportation Safety, as amended.  ​

  1. ​Notify the DOE Certifying Official ( if the component is from a DOE certified packaging or used under a DOT CAC based on endorsement of the DOE certificate, or
  2. Notify the DOE Certifying Official if the component is from a foreign certified packaging used under a DOT CAC based on re-validation of a foreign certificate, or
  3. Notify NRC (cc DOE Certifying Official) if the component is from an NRC certified packaging or used under a DOT CAC based on endorsement of the NRC certificate, and
  4. Send a copy of the §71.95 report to DOT at (cc DOE Certifying Official) if the packaging was used for shipment or receipt under the DOT CAC.

​Questions or comments? Contact the DOE Packaging Certification Program Manager, Dr. Shuler, (301) 903-5513,

Added ​November 13, 2017, revised October 1, 2019

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