Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PHMSA Proposes Lithium Battery Transport Rule

The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Monday issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) [found at 49 CFR Parts 100-185] by increasing the safety of lithium batteries in transport. The proposed rule would implement requirements that all lithium batteries be packaged for transport in order to prevent damage leading to a catastrophic incident, or to minimize the effects of an incident. For all modes of transportation (including air), lithium cells and batteries would have to be packaged in such a way that protects the cell or battery from short-circuits. For air transport, the cells or batteries would be required to be transported in a container approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or be stowed in crew-accessible cargo locations or a location equipped with an FAA-approved fire suppression system.

In addition, the rule would require lithium batteries be accompanied by hazard communication ensuring appropriate handling by air carrier personnel while in transport. This would include communicating to transport workers and emergency response personnel what to do in an emergency. Manufacturers of lithium cells or batteries would be required to mark each battery and cell to indicate satisfactory completion of United Nations (UN) design type tests, and to keep records of such tests.

Members of the public may submit written comments by March 12, 2010, in one of several ways:
  • Online, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal;
  • Via fax, at (202) 493-2251; or
  • Via mail, to: Docket Management System; U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Operations, M–30, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590–0001.

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