Lithium Batteries Remain in Regulators’ Crosshairs

Lithium Batteries Remain in Regulators’ Crosshairs

This piece was originally published in the May 2017 issue of electroindustry.

Craig Updyke, Director, Trade and Commercial Affairs, NEMA

As Congress considers legislation this year to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), discussions continue on the proper approach to achieving safe transportation of lithium batteries and devices containing them.

Current law prevents the FAA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)—both within the U.S. Department of Transportation—from promulgating regulations that would be more stringent than International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations. ICAO has placed more stringent quantity and cargo stowage restrictions and created a new handling label for packages containing lithium batteries. In March, the FAA proposed placing special conditions for airworthiness certification of aircraft that have on-board devices containing non-rechargeable lithium batteries.

The PHMSA also adopted new hazard communication requirements, including a “Class 9” label, for shipments of lithium batteries, consistent with changes adopted in the 19th Revised Edition of the United Nations Model Regulations for Transportation of Dangerous Goods. A multi-year effort has begun in the UN experts group to reform how lithium batteries are classified and regulated for transportation safety.

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