PRBA States Concern Over U.S. Department of Transportation Proposed Rules on Lithium Batteries

February 07, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) is calling attention to little known proposed regulations recently announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is said to contain far-reaching proposed changes to the U.S. hazardous materials regulations (HMR) applicable to lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and equipment containing them. According to PRBA, the potential impacts of the rule are enormous.

The DOT is proposing to eliminate the exceptions in the HMR for air shipments of small lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries and equipment packed with or containing them. If adopted, all lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and most portable electronic equipment powered by them would have to be declared as fully-regulated hazardous materials when offered for air transport. This would include such equipment as smart phones, notebooks, digital still and video cameras, and children’s toys. DOT also is proposing to place significant limitations on where the batteries and equipment may be stowed on passenger and cargo aircraft.

These requirements would apply to all aircraft operating to, from or within the U.S. as well as to U.S. registered aircraft operating anywhere in the world. These stowage limitations not only affect shippers of small lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and equipment but also shippers of batteries designed for hybrid and electric vehicles.