A Drum Is a Drum Is a Drum – Or Is It? The Difference Between Overpack and Salvage


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.”

They are used to contain smaller, non-leaking packages. The package within the overpack must not be compromised and be fully sealed. Examples of these 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 polyethylene drums.

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 these 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. Not matter what material make-up of the drum, it must meet UN specifications for shipments, as well as pass a psi air leak proof test. Also when using these 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. These drums can be used more than once, according to 49 CFR 173.28, but in order to legally reuse one of the drums for transport, it must be leak tested, and if it is shown that the drum’s 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 to ship leaky, defective or hazardous materials.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *