August 12, 2015 | Industry Insights

New Rules for Ground Transport of Lithium Battery In Effect

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New regulations covering the safe shipment of lithium batteries went into effect beginning August 7, 2015, after being pushed back by six months to allow the industry enough time to adjust to the new requirements. Ruling HM-224F, set by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), requires shippers moving lithium batteries by ground to meet specific package marking and hazard communication documentation standards.

The new regulations require that packages containing fewer than 24 cells or fewer than 12 batteries to have a hazard mark or special documentation when being shipped by ground in the same way they have been prepared for air shipment. In the past, shipments of up to 12 “small” batteries (or 24 cells) were exempt from these regulations. Most lithium batteries are now considered as Class 9 hazardous materials when transported by ground transportation, which makes them more closely aligned with the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Lithium batteries offer high performance in a wide range of products, and can pose serious hazards if not packed and handled safely when transported. Both metal and ion flavors of lithium are highly flammable and can easily ignite as a result of exposure to a heat source when carried in cargo holds. The ruling is designed to better ensure that lithium cells and batteries are able to withstand normal transportation conditions and are packaged to reduce the possibility of damage that could lead to an unsafe situation, according to Chicago-based Labelmaster, which provides regulatory information and products focused on the transportation of hazardous materials, and was quoted in article appearing in American Shipper.

The new rule also helps to standardize the way in which lithium batteries and equipment powered by such batteries are shipped. Ground shipments in the past were under one set of requirements while air shipments were held to a more stringent set of standards. Under the new rules, most companies will be able to standardize their shipping process. The rules apply whether lithium batteries are shipped into, out of, or through the United States (including those shipped to or from Canada) and transgressions can result in a company’s lithium battery shipments being delayed, returned or even subject to fines.

It must be noted that air transport still has the most stringent rules regarding lithium battery shipment, due primarily to findings by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that even existing Halon fire suppression systems could not extinguish lithium-initiated fires. As of January 1, 2015, lithium metal batteries packed by themselves (not contained in or packed with equipment) are banned for transport as cargo on passenger aircraft.

Roanoke Trade specializes in providing insurance solutions to logistics service providers and transportation intermediaries including Cargo insurance. We will continually keep you updated on new regulations as they affect your operation and potentially your exposure to risk. For more information about our products, contact one of our specialists at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653).

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