Link to contents



Mailability of Articles Containing Fuel

With the arrival of spring, many of us are preparing for outdoor activities, such as yard work, camping, and other hobbies. These activities may involve items (e.g., camping stoves, lanterns, lawn equipment, and toys) that use flammable material as fuel. Frequently, these items need to be mailed to be repaired or to be sent to a friend or relative. Spring is a good time to review the Postal ServiceTM policy for mailing items that contain or once contained flammable materials.

The Postal Service only accepts hazardous materials that are properly packaged, marked, labeled, and declared as specified in the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). Mailing flammable and combustible liquids is extremely limited due to their ability to catch fire and burn easily. For items that exhibit flammable or combustible properties, mailers are required to follow the procedures stated in section 601.10.13 of the DMM and in part 343 of Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

Many commonly used items contain material considered hazardous by Postal Service standards. Some fuel-containing items commonly found in the mail include:

• Chainsaws.

• Lawn trimmers and edgers.

• Small motors and engines.

• Used fuel tanks (motorcycles, lawn mowers).

• Small generators.

• Camp stoves.

• Gas lanterns or lamps.

• Model cars or aircraft.

Each of the items listed above is potentially mailable but only under one of the following conditions:

a. The item has never contained fuel, or

b. The fuel and all vapors have been completely purged from the item.

Note: If the item emits a fuel odor or if any residue is present on the outside or inside of the item, then the item is not completely purged.

Items containing fuel or fuel vapors are not mailable under any circumstances. Simply removing the fuel from an item does not make the item acceptable for mailing. Fuel tanks containing only vapors can have a greater explosion risk and thus become more hazardous than tanks that are full or partially full of fuel. The fuel must be removed, and all vapors must be purged to allow these items to be safely mailed.

• To ensure that parcels containing flammable materials move safely through the mailstream, Postal Service employees should do the following:

• At acceptance, ask the question, "Does this parcel contain anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous?"

• Look out for parcels with items that could potentially contain fuel, and advise mailers of the mailing limitations (see Exhibit 1 below).

Exhibit 1
Parcel With Possible Fuel-Containing Items

Exhibit 1 - Parcel With Possible Fuel-Containing Items.

• When accepting parcels, look for oil or fuel stains on the outer packaging and fuel or petroleum odors (see Exhibit 2 below).

Exhibit 2
Parcel With Oil or Fuel Stain

Exhibit 2 - Parcel With Oil or Fuel Stain.

• If a mailpiece has markings or labels denoting a flammable or combustible material, verify the contents with the mailer and with available references that all mailability requirements have been met.

• If you encounter a fuel odor, find liquid stains, or hear liquid sounds while handling parcels, move the parcel to the HAZMAT storage area or notify your supervisor.

If you have questions about the mailability of an item or the steps required of customers for preparing an item for mailing, contact your local Business Mail Entry office.

— Aviation Mail Security and Hazardous Materials,
Network Operations Management, 5-11-06