Violating hazmat regulations for packaging and handling lithium batteries can bring a maximum civil penalty of $50,000, $100,000 if serious injury, death, or substantial property destruction results.

HazCom Changes Proposed for Transporting Lithium Batteries

For aviation, unless the cells or batteries are transported in a container approved by the FAA administrator, they would have to be stowed in crew-accessible cargo locations or locations equipped with an FAA-approved fire suppression system.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a proposed rule Monday that would amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to increase the safety of transported lithium batteries. Saying the changes will apply to lithium cells and batteries packed with or contained in equipment, the agency asked for comments by March 12 and proposed a mandatory compliance date 75 days after a final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Besides including requirements to ensure all lithium batteries are packaged to prevent damage leading to a catastrophic incident or minimize the effects of an incident, the proposal would require the batteries to be accompanied by hazard communication that ensures appropriate and careful handling by air carrier personnel, including the flight crew, and tells transport workers and emergency response personnel what to do in an emergency. PHMSA said the proposals are "largely consistent" with changes in the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, and they answer recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Manufacturers will have to keep results of satisfactory completion of UN design type tests for each lithium cell and battery type and also place a mark on the battery and/or cell to indicate testing has been completed successfully.

For all transport modes, lithium cells and batteries will have to be packed to protect the cell or battery from short-circuits. For aviation, unless the cells or batteries are transported in a container approved by the FAA administrator, they would have to be stowed in crew-accessible cargo locations or locations equipped with an FAA-approved fire suppression system.

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