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U.S. Postal Service Issues Amended Regulations on Lithium Batteries; PRBA to Meet with Agency to Discuss Implications on Shipments to APO, FPO and DPO Locations

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) published a final rule on May 14, 2012 that aligns the USPS’s International Mail Manual (IMM) with the lithium battery provisions of the current Universal Postal Union (UPU) Convention. (See 77 Fed. Reg. 28259.) The change will mean that the USPS no longer will accept lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries or equipment packed with or containing them when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location effective May 16, 2012. However, starting January 1, 2013, the USPS is expected to begin accepting equipment containing small lithium cells and batteries, which would be consistent with new UPU Convention standards on lithium batteries and ICAO Technical Instructions that take effect on that date.

PRBA Meets with DOT to Discuss Transport of Waste Batteries

On May 3, 2012, PRBA met with the U.S. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to discuss regulatory challenges related to the transport of waste batteries in anticipation of a national primary battery collection program.  In light of the vastly larger number of primary batteries replaced by consumers annually as compared to rechargeable batteries, establishment of this new program could have considerable impact on RBRC’s Call2Recycle® and similar used rechargeable battery recycling programs.

European Commission Launches Draft Proposal to Consider Ban on Nickel Cadmium Batteries in Cordless Power Tools

The European Commission recently published a draft proposal for removing the exemption for cadmium-containing portable batteries used in cordless power tools (CPT) currently provided for in Battery Directive 2006/66/EC. 

The Battery Directive prohibits the placing on the market of portable batteries containing more than 0.002 % of cadmium by weight but currently provides an exemption for portable nickel cadmium batteries intended for use in emergency and alarm systems, including emergency lighting, medical equipment and CPT. This exemption for CPT was  included in the Battery Directive in 2006 because at that time no viable alternatives were available to the industry to replace nickel cadmium batteries.

The Commission now believes viable alternatives to nickel cadmium batteries for CPT are available.

PRBA Files Comments in Support of U.S. DOT’s Lithium Battery Proposed Rule

On May 11, 2012, PRBA filed comments in support of the U.S. DOT’s efforts to harmonize the U.S. hazardous materials regulations applicable to the air transport of lithium batteries with lithium battery Packing Instructions 965 and 968 in the ICAO Technical Instructions adopted at the February 6-10, 2012 ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel meeting on lithium batteries.  A copy of PRBA’s comments can be downloaded here.  For more information, contact PRBA at prbatt@gmail.com.

ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel Adopts New Lithium Battery Air Transport Regulations

President Obama Signs FAA Reauthorization Bill with Lithium Battery Provision

On February 10, 2012, the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel approved significant changes to the Packing Instructions in the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air applicable to small, excepted lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries shipped by air. In addition, a new weight limit requirement applicable to excepted lithium ion and lithium metal batteries packed with or contained in equipment was adopted. All of these changes go into effect on January 1, 2013.

President Obama recently signed the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act 2012, which includes a provision requiring that the U.S. Department of Transportation generally harmonize U.S. lithium battery hazardous materials regulations with the ICAO Technical Instructions. DOT is expected to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on lithium batteries within the next several months that will likely go into effect within the first three months of 2013.

PRBA Assails Fundamental Flaws in FAA Safety Study On Air Shipments of Lithium Batteries

PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today said a recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) study on the potential risks posed by the air transport of lithium batteries was based on flawed assumptions, unsound methodology and faulty data.

“Unfortunately, the FAA study has provoked unwarranted scare-mongering in the news media and distracted attention from important safety issues. Everyone agrees improperly packaged lithium ion batteries should not be shipped as cargo. This safety goal can best be achieved by rigorous enforcement that will ensure compliance with existing international battery regulations,” PRBA Executive Director George A. Kerchner said.

In a letter to the Secretary of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Dangerous Goods Panel, PRBA detailed its concerns about the methodological mistakes in the FAA study.  Click here for a copy of the letter.

PRBA Endorses U.N. Efforts to Improve Lithium Ion Battery Transport Safety Regulations

RBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association Endorses U.N. Efforts to Improve Lithium Ion Battery Transport Safety Regulations, Reiterates Call for Increased Compliance, Tougher Enforcement

Washington (December 5, 2011) – PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today praised efforts last week by the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to bolster the lithium ion battery transport safety regulations.

“PRBA is pleased to confirm its support for several battery safety measures, including one introduced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, discussed by the Subcommittee last week,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner, who attended the U.N. meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

However, these somewhat technical safety requirements are only part of ongoing efforts to ensure the safe transport of lithium ion batteries, Kerchner emphasized. “Safety remains our No. 1 priority. It is best achieved when enforcement agencies around the world remain vigilant and aggressively use their authority to force noncompliant shippers of lithium ion batteries and products containing these batteries to comply with the law,” Kerchner said.

PRBA has repeatedly informed air safety experts that the handful of battery incidents around the world occurred because of ineffectual compliance with existing regulations and inadequate government enforcement. PRBA also has repeatedly urged greater U.S. and international enforcement of existing packaging, labeling and shipping requirements. Mr. Kerchner addressed these issues in numerous transportation forums in 2011, including the World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul and Lithium Battery Transportation Workshop in Shanghai.

PRBA also has emphasized the need for consistent rules in all countries. “We share the view, often expressed by U.S. Department of Transportation officials, that different requirements increase confusion, which increases risk,” said Kerchner.

PRBA reiterated its concerns in a letter this summer to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The letter was also signed by 18 other companies and trade groups. “The failure of some shippers to comply with these requirements has been the root cause of virtually all of reported air cargo transport incidents,” including the three most recent lithium battery incidents citied by the Federal Aviation Administration. “Indeed, none of the incidents listed by FAA—and no others of which we are aware—were attributable to properly packaged, compliant shipments,” the letter added.

“But the U.S. DOT does not appear to be increasing enforcement pressures on shippers of improperly packaged lithium batteries or addressing shippers’ violations of regulations,” the  letter stated.

PRBA and other organizations have also emphasized the need for regulatory initiatives to track down the manufacturers of counterfeit batteries because of the risks such batteries pose in transportation. PRBA has also recommended that DOT should coordinate enforcement and outreach efforts with regulators in countries where shipments of counterfeit batteries originate and publicize actions taken against non-compliant shippers.

“Regulators must act. The recent efforts by the U.N. Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods are a step in the right direction. But there is more work to be done,” Kerchner said.

About PRBA

The members of PRBA power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for portable electronic equipment such as notebook computers, cell phones, power tools, PDAs, and MP3 players, as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. PRBA members produce approximately 70 percent of the world’s lithium ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on rechargeable batteries.

ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel Rejects DOT Proposal on Lithium Batteries; Delays Final Decision to January

On October 19, 2011, the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel rejected the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposal to change the quantity limits on excepted lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries in Section II of Packing Instructions 965 and 968 of the ICAO Technical Instructions. The DOT proposal was rejected by a vote of 10-6.

However, Panel members have agreed to meet in January in Montreal for a three-day lithium battery working group meeting to re-consider the issues addressed in DOT’s paper. Therefore, it is still possible the Panel could adopt new restrictions on air shipments of small lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries. If so, the new restrictions could go into effect internationally on January 1, 2013.

The rejected DOT proposal will not be the only issue on the January meeting agenda. It will also include shipping requirements for large format lithium ion batteries and the approvals required for such batteries, shipments of equipment containing lithium batteries in the international post and other lithium battery-related transport issues.

For more information, contact George Kerchner at gkerchner@wileyrein.com or 202.719.4109.

National Fire Protection Association Holds Workshop on Lithium ion Battery Hazards

National Fire Protection Association Holds Workshop on Lithium ion Battery Hazards
The Fire Protection Research Foundation hosted a workshop on lithium ion battery storage protection strategies in Baltimore, Maryland on August 30th. In preparation for that meeting, the Foundation released a 112-page study of the hazards associated with lithium ion battery storage, with an aim of developing fire protection strategies to mitigate loss associated with fire incidence with lithium ion batteries in bulk storage and distribution, alone and in manufactured products.

The Foundation’s overall aim is to develop the technical basis for requirements in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other standards which prescribe protection requirements.

The first phase of the project, described in the report, is a literature review of battery technology, failure modes and events, usage, codes and standards, and a hazard assessment during the life cycle of storage and distribution. It also lays out a research approach toward evaluating appropriate facility fire protection strategies.

A copy of the report is available online at http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/ Research/RFLithiumIonBatteriesHazard.pdf.

Industry Coalition Urges Crackdown On Lithium Battery Shippers Who Fail to Comply with Air Safety Regulations

Washington D.C. — A broad-based coalition of trade associations representing manufacturers of batteries, consumer electronics and medical devices as well as air freight companies, airlines and retailers have urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to act against shippers of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries that fail to comply with applicable air transportation safety regulations. A copy of the coalition letter can be downloaded here.

ICAO Agrees to Adopt PRBA Lithium Battery Proposals, Rejects Pilots Association Proposals

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) met in Montreal, Canada on October 5 -16, 2009 to complete their work on amending the ICAO Technical Instructions on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Approximately 110 papers were filed with DGP, including 24 papers related to lithium batteries. Four PRBA proposals were adopted by the DGP. PRBA also was successful in securing reasonable changes to the lithium battery Packing Instructions. The changes adopted during this meeting will go into effect on January 1, 2011.

Korea Agrees to Delay Implementation of Lithium ion Standard, Changes Position on Testing Labs

There has been substantial progress on the issue of Korea’s lithium ion battery standard. PRBA has been working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Commerce in an effort secure a delay in the effective date of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) lithium ion battery standard that was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2009. PRBA also requested that labs outside of Korea be authorized to test to this standard. (The standard currently designates four Korean labs for testing.)

UN Subcommittee Agrees to More Stringent Regulations on Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries Shipped by Sea; Addresses Need for More Clarification on “Energy Storage Systems”

On June 24, 2009, the UN Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods voted 10-2 in favor of proposal to require nickel metal hydride batteries shipped by sea to be offered as fully-regulated Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous goods. The proposal was filed with the UN Subcommittee by the vessel operators association (VOHMA), International Maritime Organization, Germany, France, and Belgium. PRBA will be working with VOHMA and Germany to develop the provisions for incorporation into the IMDG Code that limit the scope of the regulations to large consignments of cells and batteries.

UN Panel Adopts PRBA Proposal

Outdated Battery Tests Inhibit Development of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles< Washington D.C. – The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association announced today that the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has endorsed a major PRBA initiative by modifying the international testing requirements for rechargeable lithium cells and batteries. The approval came at a Subcommittee meeting last week in Geneva, Switzerland.

We are gratified that the UN Subcommittee agreed with PRBA’s position that advances in technology made some testing requirements no longer necessary and overwhelmingly approved our proposal to eliminate the testing of rechargeable lithium cells and batteries that are fully discharged, said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. These batteries are used in cell phones, notebook computers, other electronic devices and some vehicles.

Experts from France, Germany and Japan supported another PRBA proposal, which called for revisions in the testing requirements for large format lithium batteries expected to power the latest generation of hybrid and electric vehicles. However, no formal vote was taken on the proposal and PRBA intends to file an amended paper on large format lithium batteries before the UN Subcommittee’s scheduled meeting in December. If adopted, these testing changes would facilitate the shipment of large format batteries by battery companies and vehicle manufacturers.

The UN Subcommittee last updated its testing requirements for lithium batteries in 2000, when the regulatory focus was almost entirely on the smaller lithium cells and batteries that played a crucial role in the consumer electronics revolution. Eight years ago, few experts anticipated either the significant gains in lithium-battery technology or the widespread demand for large-format batteries by the military, aerospace, telecommunications and automobile industries.

Large-format lithium batteries play a critical role in ongoing international efforts to reduce global warming and curb our addiction to carbon-based fuels. Unfortunately, outmoded international battery tests have become a little-known impediment to technological progress and could inhibit the development of an entire generation of environmentally-friendly products such as hybrid and electric cars, Mr. Kerchner said.

About PRBA

The members of PRBA power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for portable electronic equipment such notebook computers, cell phones, power tools, PDAs, and MP3 players as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. PRBA members produce more than half of the world’s lithium-ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on rechargeable batteries.

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association Supports DOT Prohibition on Spare Lithium Batteries in Checked Baggage

Battery-Safety Rules Take Effect on Jan. 1, 2008
Monday, December 31, 2007
For immediate release Contact: W. John Moore
December 31, 2007 Phone: 202.683.3110

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association Supports DOT Prohibition on Spare Lithium Batteries in Checked Baggage Battery

Safety Rules Take Effect on Jan. 1, 2008

Washington – The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association today announced its support for new Department of Transportation rules that prohibit airline passengers from packing spare lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries and lithium ion rechargeable batteries in checked baggage but allow travelers to bring spare batteries in carry-on luggage.

The DOT’s regulations address legitimate concerns about spare lithium batteries packed in checked luggage aboard aircraft, said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. At the same time, Kerchner added, travelers can bring notebook computers, cell phones, DVD players, digital cameras, and other consumer electronic products either onboard or in checked luggage even if the lithium batteries are installed in these items. Travelers can also bring the most commonly used spare lithium batteries with them in carry-on luggage, but the batteries should be safely packaged, either in their original retail packaging or in plastic bags. The DOT rules take effect tomorrow http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html.

Kerchner noted that some early press accounts stating that passengers could bring only two spare batteries in carry-on luggage were inaccurate. The two-battery limit for lithium ion batteries only applies to spares exceeding eight grams of equivalent lithium content. The DOT correctly noted that all lithium ion batteries used in cell phones fall well below the 8 gram limit, as do nearly all notebook computer batteries. Passengers are limited to bringing two spare lithium ion batteries only if the batteries exceed 8 grams of equivalent lithium content and less than 25 grams. As for lithium metal batteries, whether installed in a consumer product or carried as a spare, the maximum lithium content is 2 grams per battery. All consumer lithium metal batteries have less than 2 grams of lithium metal.

Lithium ion batteries are the unsung heroes of the consumer electronic revolution and the DOT rules recognize their ubiquitous presence in modern life. Travelers, corporate road warriors and vacationers alike will find these rules easy to live with, especially if they follow government safety tips endorsed by PRBA, Kerchner said.

The DOT rules, however, may be a more problematical for news gathering organizations, sports broadcasters, television production companies, and other media businesses that rely on crews requiring audio/visual equipment powered by larger lithium ion batteries with more than 8 grams of equivalent lithium content, Kerchner noted.

A guide to DOT’s new lithium battery carry-on provisions can found on PRBA’s website at http://www.prba.org/Laws_and_Regulations/Default.ashx.

About PRBA

The members of PRBA power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for notebook computers, cell phones, power tools, PDAs, MP3 players and other cordless devices. PRBA members produce more than half of the world’s lithium-ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on portable rechargeable batteries.

Immediate release Contact: W. John Moore

November 16, 2007 202.448.9295

Safety Tips for Holiday Travelers

PRBA Urges Airline Passengers to Follow Safety Guidelines for Batteries and Battery-Powered Notebooks, Cameras, Cellular Phones and Other Products

Washington, D.C – During the upcoming holiday season, travelers should take the necessary steps to enhance the safe use and transport of lithium-ion batteries and battery-powered consumer electronic products carried onboard passenger aircraft, the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association said today.

If travelers observe Department of Transportation safety guidelines, they will minimize errors that could create problems with batteries and everyday battery-powered products, including notebooks, cameras, cellular phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and other electronic gear, said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday travel season, with experts forecasting 27 million passengers will board an airplane by November 28. It’s important that passengers are alerted to these DOT guidelines and follow its recommendations over the next several weeks of peak travel, Kerchner said.

The DOT’s safety advisory targets the safe transportation of batteries and battery-powered devices by airline passengers and crew. The advisory said a portable battery-powered devices and batteries are safe for transportation when packed properly. Passengers, however, should:

  • Keep spare batteries in their original retail packaging
  • Keep loose batteries covered with insulating tapes to protect them against contact with metal objects
  • Place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package
  • Pack spare batteries in carry-on luggage, not checked bags
  • Charge only rechargeable batteries
  • Use only chargers designed for the specific battery
  • Take steps to prevent crushing or puncturing of batteries
  • For more information, go to: http://safetravel.dot.gov/tips.html

Lithium-ion batteries are the unsung heroes of the high-tech revolution in consumer electronic products, Kerchner noted. But batteries must be used correctly. Travelers must understand that the minimal risks associated with batteries and battery-powered products are dramatically reduced if DOT recommended procedures are followed.”

About PRBA

The members of PRBA power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for notebook computers, cell phones, power tools, PDAs, MP3 players and other cordless devices. PRBA members produce more than half of the world’s lithium-ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on portable rechargeable batteries.