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PRBA Statement on the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority Report on the 2010 UPS Aircraft Accident

PRBA–The Rechargeable Battery Association  commends the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates for the release of a comprehensive report detailing its thorough investigation into the 2010 cargo plane accident near Dubai.

The report states that some of the lithium batteries shipped as cargo on the aircraft were neither properly packaged and labeled nor declared as dangerous goods. Some batteries also failed to comply with the mandatory testing requirements in the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, the report added.

The safe transport of lithium batteries is PRBA’s number one priority. Compliance with the international dangerous goods transport regulations is the key to the safe transport of lithium batteries. PRBA has repeatedly expressed its concerns regarding non-compliant shipments of lithium batteries in certain parts of the world and urged enforcement agencies to aggressively use their authority to stop non-compliant shippers of lithium batteries from offering their batteries for transport.

PRBA supports the GCAA’s recommendation that the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration harmonize its lithium battery safety regulations with those already in effect under the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.

PRBA looks forward to working with the airline industry and dangerous goods regulatory authorities to address the safety issues and recommendations in the GCAA report.

Please attribute the above statements to PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. 

UAE Final Report – UPS Boeing 747-44AF – N571UP

Air Accident Investigation Report.

Download Report

U.K. Agency Says ‘No Evidence’ Batteries Caused 787 Fire

By Andy Pasztor, Daniel Michaels and Jon Ostrower

Wall Street Journal – British investigators said investigators said “there is no evidence” that lithium-ion batteries caused the fire that damaged a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 at London’s Heathrow International Airport on Friday, but they didn’t indicate what may have sparked the flames. More

PRBA Participates in the 5th World Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum in Japan

George Kerchner, executive director of PRBA–The Rechargeable Battery Association, recently joined leaders from three international  battery organizations in Kyoto, Japan, to discuss the current global regulatory challenges facing the industry and to lay the groundwork for future cooperation.

Kerchner and representatives and members from the Korean Battery Industry Association (KBIA), the Battery Association of Japan and RECHARGE – The International Association for Advanced Rechargeable Batteries participated in the May 21-22 World Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum (WRBRF). The WRBRF previously was held in Annapolis, Md., Rome, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

KBIA, Korea’s newly formed battery association, participated in the forum for the first time and offered a unique perspective on its activities and international regulatory concerns. Some of the issues discussed during the forum included the following:

  • New dangerous goods transport regulations for damaged/defective lithium batteries and waste lithium batteries
  • Global battery collection and recycling programs and  initiatives
  • Industry standards on rechargeable batteries
  • Lithium ion battery fire code developments
  • Safety issues and coordinated industry responses
  • Flammability testing of lithium ion batteries by government agencies
  • Proposed changes to European battery directive and a ban on cadmium in power tools
  • Re-use and second use of rechargeable batteries and producer responsibilities
  • The Information Technology Agreement and elimination of import tariffs on rechargeable batteries

“The WRBRF provided an invaluable opportunity for the leaders of the international battery community to discuss the major regulatory issues as well as the global challenges and opportunities facing the battery industry and our members,” Kerchner said.

The WRBRF in Japan followed other recent PRBA international initiatives. In April, Kerchner presented PRBA’s proposal for amending the international dangerous goods regulations applicable to lithium batteries at meetings in Montreal and London. In Montreal, the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel Working Group adopted a PRBA proposal related to the weight restrictions on lithium batteries transported by air and considered a PRBA paper on damaged and defective lithium batteries and waste lithium batteries.

During a late April meeting in London, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), updated the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code by incorporating the most recent regulatory changes on damaged and defective lithium batteries and waste lithium batteries. These changes that were originally adopted  by the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and based on proposals jointly filed by PRBA and RECHARGE.

NTSB Lithium ion Battery Forum Scheduled for April 11-12

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold a forum on lithium ion batteries in transportation on April 11-12 in Washington, DC.  The forum is intended to educate the NTSB on how lithium ion batteries are used across transportation modes.  The forum is free and open to the public and will be broadcast via webcast.  The full agenda for the forum is available on the NTSB’s website: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2013/batteryforum/agenda

The agenda includes the following three panels:

  1. Design, development and use of lithium ion battery technology;
  2. Regulations and standards for lithium ionbatteries; and
  3. Lithium ion battery applications and safety in transportation.

Several PRBA members and PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner have been invited to participate on the panels.  Other panel members include the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), RTCA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

For more information, contact George Kerchner at prbatt@gmail.com.

PRBA Urges PHMSA to Align U.S. Air Transport Rules for Lithium Batteries with Stricter International Standards

Dual Compliance Option “Inconsistent” with 2012 FAA Law

The Rechargeable Battery Association has filed comments with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reiterating that it “fully supports” a proposal that would harmonize U.S. rules for air shipment of lithium batteries with the more stringent international standards.

But PRBA questioned PHMSA’s plan to permit a dual system of regulation for the transport of lithium batteries, which would give carriers and shippers the option of complying with either existing PHMSA regulations or the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for domestic-only shipments.

“Dual standards create a cloud of confusion for everyone in the battery industry. Confusion limits compliance. And lack of compliance jeopardizes safety,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said. “PRBA members favor a simplified yet rigorous regulatory regime that will advance air safety,” he added.

PRBA also submitted comments as part of a 23-member trade association coalition that includes manufacturers of batteries, consumer electronics and medical devices as well as air freight companies and retailers. PRBA and the coalition were responding to PHMSA’s Jan. 7, 2013 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. PHMSA requested comments addressing the “unintended consequences” of letting shippers choose their method of compliance for domestic battery shipments instead of issuing a final rule harmonizing the U.S. regulations with the tougher international requirements.

PRBA’s filing called for a single standard as the best approach, noting that PHMSA’s plan to allow a choice of compliance efforts “would not be consistent with the intent” of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Not only was harmonization mandated by Congress, PRBA said, “but it also will enhance safety by simplifying training for employers, make it easier for haz mat employees to understand how to package and ship lithium batteries and minimize costs and other burdens associated with complying with inconsistent regulations.”

PRBA also listed several “unintended consequences” if PHMSA allows shippers and carriers to operate under the weaker U.S. regulatory system. First, pilots may not be notified of large shipments of small, excepted lithium batteries on their aircraft and carriers may not be able to implement workable acceptance checklists. Concerns about the pilot notification and carrier implementation of the checklist provisions motivated ICAO to adopt the more stringent lithium battery regulations in February 2012, PRBA’s filing said.

Second, the ICAO Technical Instructions require employee training regardless of battery size, but the U.S. rules do not. Third, PHMSA may find it difficult to bring enforcement cases against shippers complying with U.S regulations but not the ICAO standards. “This situation may prevent PHMSA (and FAA) from taking aggressive enforcement actions against non-compliant shippers of lithium batteries,” PRBA said.

PRBA Statement on ICAO’s Provisional Decision on Transporting Large Lithium Ion Aircraft Batteries on Passenger Planes

The Rechargeable Battery Association recognizes the concerns that prompted today’s decision by the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel to prohibit temporarily the transport of large lithium ion aircraft batteries on passenger planes. Lithium ion batteries weighing no more than 11 pounds may continue to be transported as cargo on passenger aircraft.

Safety remains PRBA’s No. 1 priority. PRBA plays an active role in ICAO meetings and has supported the more stringent ICAO regulations addressing the air shipment of lithium ion batteries that took effect January 1, 2013. The airline industry has announced its support of the ICAO decision, and PRBA defers to the airlines on the international rules for transporting lithium ion aircraft batteries.

As PRBA has stated before, news accounts that conflate the cargo shipments of these lithium ion batteries with large lithium ion batteries used to power aircraft are fundamentally wrong and mislead the public. Misinformation about lithium ion batteries abounds. It is absolutely critical to understand the world of difference between the millions and millions of lithium ion batteries and products containing them that are safely packaged and transported on aircraft every year and the much larger lithium ion aircraft batteries that were actively being used as a power source onboard Boeing’s Dreamliner during the recently reported incidents.

We continue to caution against a rush to judgment about the general safety of lithium ion batteries until all the facts are in and investigators in the United States and Japan can provide the answers to all the questions about what caused the Dreamliner incidents.

About PRBA

PRBA members 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 and containerized lithium ion battery stationary systems. 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.

PRBA Statement on the Safety of Lithium Ion Batteries

Washington (February 5, 2013) — News stories that equate cargo shipments of lithium ion batteries with those lithium ion batteries used to power aircraft are fundamentally wrong and mislead the public. Misinformation about lithium ion batteries abounds. Allegations are often repeated without any understanding of the facts. That’s why it is absolutely critical to understand the world of difference between the millions and millions of lithium ion batteries and products containing them that are safely packaged and transported on aircraft every year and the much larger lithium ion aircraft batteries that were actively being used as a power source onboard Boeing’s Dreamliner during the recently reported incidents.

The batteries on the Dreamliner actively charge and discharge on the aircraft. As investigators are learning, these batteries are part of an extremely complex aircraft electrical system involving wiring, chargers, monitors and controlling units, to name just a few. Lithium ion batteries and the products containing them, as well as aircraft batteries, are not charged and discharged during transport and must be packaged, labeled and shipped in accordance with robust international transportation regulations that became effective this year and are typically more stringent than previous U.S. Department of Transportation requirements.

We continue to await the results of complete investigations in Japan and the United States. It is clear these investigations will take more time than was originally envisioned. We caution against a rush to judgment about the general safety of lithium ion batteries until all the facts are in and investigators can provide the answers to questions about the Dreamliner incidents.

About PRBA

PRBA members 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 and containerized lithium ion battery stationary systems. 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.

PRBA Statement on Dreamliner Incident and Lithium ion Batteries

Billions of lithium ion cells and batteries are safely manufactured and transported every year.  In addition, lithium ion batteries are safely used in millions of applications every day.  Lithium ion batteries have emerged as the indispensable power source for notebook computers, mobile phones and tablets as well as medical devices and military equipment. More recently, lithium ion batteries have become indispensable in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by leading the way as a power source for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Lithium ion batteries are ubiquitous. And they are ubiquitous because they are fundamentally safe.

We are awaiting the results of a complete investigation and caution against making any judgments about the general safety of lithium ion batteries based on the very preliminary reports of the Dreamliner incidents. It is important to be aware that millions of lithium ion batteries and products containing them are safely packaged and transported on aircraft every year.  Also, lithium ion batteries have been used in commercial aircraft and the U.S. military’s new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet for a number of years. We are not aware of a single battery-related safety incident aboard these aircraft.

U.S. Department of Transportation Publishes New Proposed Rule, Request for Comment on Lithium Batteries

The U.S. DOT published today a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM); Request for Additional Comment on lithium batteries that includes a 60-day comment period.  (The U.S. DOT published a similar NPRM/Request for Additional Comment in April, 2012.)  This latest NPRM appears to be an attempt to eliminate an uncertainty as to whether the Agency’s proposal to harmonize the U.S. lithium battery regulations with the requirements of the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical Instructions was intended to replace the original NPRM on lithium batteries published on January 11, 2010.  There are five questions in the NPRM that focus primarily on the potential consequences of allowing shippers the “option” of complying with the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical Instructions for domestic shipments of lithium batteries.  A copy of the NPRM can be downloaded here.

PRBA-Backed Proposals on Shipments of Damaged and Waste Lithium Batteries Approved by UN Transport Panel — Success at Geneva Meetings Caps Remarkable Year for Battery Association

PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association said today that the UN Sub-Committee of  Experts on the Transport of  Dangerous Goods earlier this week adopted proposals introduced by PRBA and RECHARGE, its international European counterpart, on the shipment of damaged or defective lithium batteries and waste lithium batteries.

“The Sub-committee’s actions this week in Geneva, Switzerland, constitute a major accomplishment for PRBA and reflect the enormous efforts by both groups over the last two years to secure these results. We both participated in four UN Sub-Committee meetings and numerous working groups over the last two years to gain approval for these regulations,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

“We are very grateful for the significant support provided by members of the Sub-Committee during the two-year process,” Kerchner added. Both decisions will be incorporated into the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations scheduled to take effect in 2015.

The provisions on waste lithium batteries provide a long-overdue exemption from UN testing and battery-design requirements that shippers found impossible to verify before transporting these batteries for recycling or disposal.

The Sub-committee adopted a compromise on the shipment of damaged or defective lithium batteries. It approved the PRBA-RECHARGE proposal that contained a new special provision and two packing instructions that authorize the transport of either damaged or defective lithium batteries.

The new regulations on waste lithium batteries and damaged/defective lithium batteries must now be considered by the International Maritime Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization to determine how they will be incorporated into the applicable dangerous goods regulations governing sea and air transport.

A PRBA and COSTHA (The Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles) proposal on alternative testing requirements for large lithium batteries designed to power electric and hybrid-electric vehicles was discussed but no vote was taken. However, the UN Sub-Committee agreed with PRBA’s recommendation that a three-day working group meeting should be held next spring to review existing UN testing requirements for large lithium batteries and develop proposals to modify the tests accordingly. PRBA will host that meeting in Washington, D.C.

“PRBA’s accomplishments this week at the UN were the culmination of a very busy and successful year for PRBA, both domestically and internationally,” Kerchner said.

  • In February, President Obama signed into law a major transportation bill, supported by a PRBA-led coalition of trade associations that directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to harmonize its existing regulations on the air shipment of lithium batteries with the more stringent international shipping and packaging requirements contained in ICAO Technical Instructions. DOT is expected to issue a final rule implementing the statute sometime in 2013.
  • The UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods in July unanimously approved two proposals filed jointly by PRBA and RECHARGE, on the packaging requirements for large-format lithium batteries.
  • PRBA filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission in September supporting an international proposal that would eliminate U.S. and foreign import duties on high-technology products, including lithium ion cells and batteries used in cellular phones and other battery-powered products.
  • PRBA met with legislators in numerous states on rechargeable battery product stewardship bills in order to educate them on the success of the Call2Recycle® program operated by RBRC and explain PRBA’s positions on product stewardship issues and PRBA’s model bill on rechargeable batteries.

“Much has been accomplished in 2012 and we expect to build on those accomplishments next year,” Kerchner concluded.

PRBA Endorses Expansion of International Technology Agreement and Elimination of Import Duties on Rechargeable Batteries

PRBA filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) supporting an international proposal to eliminate both U.S and foreign import duties on numerous technology products, including lithium ion cells and batteries used in cellular phones and other battery technologies.

“This is a win-win for PRBA members. Given the volume of battery imports, ending import duties could provide significant savings for PRBA members and make the exports of our members more competitive,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said. “Trade is a key issue for PRBA given the global focus of many of our members.”

PRBA not only endorsed the ITA proposal but also recommended further broadening of the proposed battery categories to cover all lithium ion cells and batteries – not just those designed for use in cellular phones – and nickel metal hydride batteries to more accurately reflect the current trade practices within the rechargeable battery industry and without regard to end use.

A copy of PRBA’s comments is available here

PRBA Battery Proposals Adopted By UN Transport Sub-Committee

The UN Sub-Committee of  Experts on the Transport of  Dangerous Goods unanimously approved two proposals on the packaging requirements for large format lithium ion batteries filed by jointly by PRBA and its international counterpart, RECHARGE. Large format lithium ion batteries are used as the power source for electric vehicles.

The UN Sub-Committee’s decisions will eliminate the need for battery manufacturers to secure approvals from transportation authorities before shipping lithium batteries in large packaging as defined in UN’s Model Regulations. The regulations imposing large packing instructions for lithium batteries will take effect in January 2015. “We are pleased by the Sub-Committee’s support for these proposals. PRBA has long endorsed international regulations, which are essential to the safe transport of lithium ion batteries,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

PRBA presented five papers at the UN meeting held the week of June 25 in Geneva, Switzerland. These papers addressed the packaging and testing of new lithium ion batteries as well as the shipment of waste lithium ion batteries and damaged and defective lithium ion batteries. 

After numerous meetings and discussions, no consensus was reached on the PRBA-RECHARGE proposals for shipping waste lithium batteries and damaged/defective lithium batteries. PRBA and RECHARGE will amend their proposals for consideration at the Sub-Committee’s next meeting scheduled for December 3-11, 2012. PRBA’s paper on testing small battery assemblies was also discussed. PRBA intends to file a proposal with the Sub-Committee that will more clearly define the UN testing requirements for these assemblies and provide an alternative to the UN tests.

PRBA to Attend United Nations Transport Meeting and Present Five Papers on Lithium ion Batteries

During the week of June 25th, PRBA will participate in a meeting of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods in Geneva, Switzerland and present five papers on lithium ion batteries.  The papers address the packaging and testing of new lithium ion batteries and the transport of waste lithium ion batteries and damaged and defective lithium ion batteries.   PRBA’s papers can be downloaded from the UN’s website at  http://www.unece.org/trans/main/dgdb/dgsubc3/c3inf41.html.

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.