As most of us have been taught by our dangerous goods instructor, the UN Packing Group Number (I, II or III) denotes the degree of danger of a particular dangerous goods. UN Packing Group I, II or III means respectively, high, medium and low danger. Criteria for these groups have been developed for dangerous goods in Classes 3, 4, Div. 5.1, Div. 6.1 and Class 8. Whenever a UN Packing Group Number is reflected in the Alphabetical List, Column F of the IATA Regulations, and Column 8 of the ICAO TI’s, this numbers must then be reflected on the shipping document.
A frequent misapplication of this requirement happens when a shipper will notice a UN Packing Group Number reflected in the text of a Packing Instruction Number that is not reflected in either Column F or Column 8. For example, a Class 1 material, UN0456, Detonators, electric is referenced to Packing Instruction Number (PIN) 131 for either Passenger or Cargo Aircraft Only preparation in the Alphabetical List of Dangerous Goods and Column F is blank. In the text of PIN 131 it states, “Unless otherwise provided for in these Regulations, packagings must meet Packing Group II requirements”. Looking at the Alphabetical List for this dangerous goods, Column F for IATA and Column 8 of ICAO are blank, with no UN Packing Group Number reflected. The reason for this is stated in the opening paragraph of this article, in that Class 1 dangerous goods have not had packing group criteria yet developed.
The statement above, i.e., “Unless otherwise provided for in these Regulations, packagings must meet Packing Group II requirements” refers to the degree of integrity that the Packaging must have, not the degree of danger of the dangerous goods.
The UN Committee of Experts uses the letter of X, Y or Z to denote what UN Packing Group Numbers are authorized in a UN Package. The letter X means that the package is authorized to contain a Packing Group I, II, or III material. The letter Y means that the package is authorized to contain a Packing Group II or III material. The letter Z means that the package is authorized to contain a Packing Group III material ONLY.
In the case of PIN 131 therefore, the letter Y must be reflected in the UN Specification Mark as a minimum. The letter X is also authorized because it meant for Packing Group I or II materials.
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