PHMSA Rule Continues Lithium Battery Shipment Limited Ban

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule today that will continue to ban cargo shipments of certain types of lithium batteries from passenger aircraft. The rule amends the Hazardous Materials Regulations by adopting a limited ban on primary, non-rechargeable lithium batteries--such as those found in cameras, laptop computers, and mobile telephones--to reduce the risk of potential fire caused by electrical short circuit. This rule also tightens standards for testing, handling, and packaging lithium batteries to reduce the likelihood of a lithium battery-related fire during shipment.

"Keeping shipments of metal lithium batteries off of passenger aircraft is a prudent step to help keep America's airlines the safest in the world," said Stacey L. Gerard, PHMSA chief safety officer and assistant administrator.

Lithium batteries are considered a hazardous material because they can overheat and ignite in certain conditions. Safety testing conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression systems are not capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of primary lithium batteries is ignited in flight.

While the rule bans shipments of the batteries on passenger flights, it does not affect the ability of passengers to carry or use personal devices containing lithium batteries while aboard aircraft.

PHMSA says it is working with FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the battery and airline industries, airline employee organizations, testing laboratories, and the emergency response communities to increase public awareness about battery-related risks and developments, and to promote improvements in industry standards and best practices. More information on these activities can be found at http://safetravel.dot.gov.

For more hazardous materials rulemaking information, go to www.phmsa.dot.gov.

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