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PRBA Applauds U.S. DOT’s Safety Alert on Hoverboards, Seeks Aggressive Action Against Non-Compliant Lithium Battery Shippers

Washington (December 30, 2015) – PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association today congratulated the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for issuing a safety alert on hoverboard shipments  and intercepting 32 cargo containers of hoverboards with lithium batteries improperly prepared for shipment.

According to one report, millions of hoverboards have been shipped from China this year, 400,000 from Shenzhen in October alone.

“As international regulatory authorities like the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel strengthen lithium battery transport regulations, the recent DOT safety alert on hoverboards has exposed a well-known fact regarding low-priced lithium batteries: Transport, safety and customs agencies in certain regions of the world are not taking the necessary steps to enforce national and international lithium battery regulations,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

Unfortunately, manufacturers often:

  • Fail to meet basic battery and product safety, design and manufacturing standards
  • Do not comply with the mandatory testing requirements in international transport regulations
  • Produce fake test reports
  • Mislabel their batteries to avoid compliance with transport regulations
  • Produce counterfeit batteries

“These compliance failures have unfairly jeopardized the integrity of legitimate and high-quality lithium battery and product manufacturers. For 35 years, the industry has  produced billions of safe and reliable lithium batteries for use in thousands of consumer products, military and aerospace applications, hybrid and electric automobiles and life-saving medical devices,” Kerchner said.

PHMSA’s recent investigation found that more 80 percent of shippers were unable to provide valid test reports as required under the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria. Testing of lithium batteries under this standard is required by the U.S. hazardous materials transportation regulations. Also, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced that the agency has seized 164 hoverboards with fake batteries or other counterfeit marks. “Counterfeit batteries remain a plague on our industry and a danger to consumers,” Kerchner said.

“PRBA believes it is time for DOT – an agency that has spent millions of dollars testing lithium batteries – to invest its resources in finding solutions to stem the hemorrhaging of non-compliant lithium battery shipments,” Kerchner emphasized.

“The first step must be a meeting between industry, U.S. and international regulators with jurisdiction over the transportation, safety and export of lithium batteries and battery-powered products,” Kerchner concluded.

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, tablets, cellular phones and power tools, medical devices 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.

Don’t Be a Grinch! PRBA Urges Holiday Flyers to Heed DOT Battery Safety Rules

With the holiday travel season set to begin this weekend, PRBA –The Rechargeable Battery Association is reminding airline passengers to follow U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations on lithium batteries and battery-powered consumer products in checked and carry-on baggage.

“If airline passengers comply with the DOT regulations on lithium batteries and take appropriate packaging and other precautions, they can minimize mistakes that could raise safety issues this holiday season,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

“Holiday flyers should be aware that the DOT prohibits spare lithium batteries in checked baggage but not carry-ons, including packages and presents,” Kerchner said. “Consumer electronic devices powered by lithium batteries such as cameras, cell phones, tablets and watches are permitted in either checked or carry-on baggage,” he added.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, is projecting 38.1 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines during the 2015 holiday season from December 18 until January 3, up 3 percent per day from 2014.

In October, DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration reiterated its longstanding lithium battery regulations and “strongly urged” airlines to inform passengers during ticketing, check in and at the gate that spare lithium batteries are prohibited in checked luggage.

Below is a summary of DOT lithium battery regulations applicable to airline passengers.

Prohibited in checked baggage

* Spare lithium ion and lithium metal batteries

* Battery-powered portable smoking devices, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers

Permitted in checked baggage and carry-ons

* Virtually every consumer electronic product powered by lithium ion or lithium metal batteries, but the devices must be protected from accidental activation

Permitted in carry-ons

* Spare lithium ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating of no more than 100 Wh and lithium metal batteries containing no more than 2 grams of lithium content. This size covers AA, AAA, camera, cell phone, tablet, and handheld game batteries. The Wh rating is marked on newer lithium ion batteries.

* With airline approval, a limit of two larger-sized lithium ion batteries up to 160 Wh plus another contained in a product such as audio-visual equipment,

* Battery-powered portable smoking devices, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers, but crew and passengers barred from charging these devices aboard the aircraft.

In a recent development, numerous airlines have banned “Hoverboards,” a battery-powered two-wheel glider and a popular holiday gift, in checked and carry-on baggage. Passengers should check with their airline before traveling to the airport with these devices.

Airline passengers can also improve safety by following the safety precautions listed below.

· Keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, a separate pouch/pocket or tape over the electrical connections.

· Prevent loose batteries from moving around or coming in contact with metal objects such as coins.

· Charge only rechargeable batteries.

· Every battery comes with a compatible charger. Don’t mix and match. Use only the charger designed for the specific battery.

· If you must carry a battery-powered device in any baggage, package it to prevent inadvertent activation.

· Take steps to prevent crushing or puncturing of batteries.

“Batteries must be used, treated and packaged correctly to ensure safety during the holidays,” Kerchner emphasized.

PRBA Statement on Hoverboards and Lithium Ion Batteries

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association said today the widely-publicized hoverboard’s safety issues were likely caused by manufacturers using poorly manufactured and designed or even counterfeit lithium ion batteries.

“Blaming reputable battery manufacturers for the hoverboard’s safety problems is incorrect and unfair. There is mounting evidence demonstrating that low-cost hoverboard manufacturers based in China are relying on substandard batteries,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

“We see very few safety problems with lithium ion batteries or devices powered by them from reputable suppliers that have met stringent testing requirements, rigorous quality control standards and tough regulatory safeguards,” Kerchner said. “We do have concerns about a handful of companies willing to manufacture and ship products containing poorly manufactured lithium ion batteries rushed to market in order to meet consumer demand during the holiday season,” Kerchner added.

Safety is the No. 1 priority for all PRBA members. Billions of lithium ion batteries have been safely manufactured by PRBA members over the last 25 years. Lithium ion batteries safely power thousands of consumer electronic products, including cameras, cell phones and tablets, life-saving medical devices such as heart defibrillators and high-tech equipment and jet fighters deployed by America’s armed services.

Many hoverboards appear to be an unfortunate anomaly. Here’s why: Some hoverboards apparently violate the battery safety requirements scrupulously observed by most of the battery industry and its customers. This includes meeting the mandatory testing requirements in all of the international dangerous transport regulations and voluntary industry standards such as ANSI/UL 2271.

Delta Airlines has said some hoverboards were mislabeled and use batteries that exceed the Watt-hour rating for batteries that may be carried on planes by passengers. No responsible supplier would ship such products. Some hoverboard batteries also reportedly are counterfeit versions of high-quality lithium ion batteries. According to press accounts, hoverboard manufacturers using the counterfeit batteries then willfully misinformed shippers and regulatory authorities that these batteries were produced by reputable manufacturers.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently issued a warning about counterfeit hoverboard batteries and announced that the agency has seized 164 hoverboards with fake batteries or other counterfeit marks. PRBA appreciates the efforts of the CBP and other federal agencies that have been aggressively enforcing the applicable safety and import/export laws.

It’s important that any misconduct by hoverboard manufacturers and their misuse of lithium ion batteries be stopped. Hoverboard manufacturers and their battery suppliers must observe the same safety regulations that apply to the rest of the battery industry.

It would also be unfortunate if the blatantly illegal actions and aberrant behavior of a few rogue manufacturers were allowed to distort the battery industry’s exemplary safety record.

In fact, the hoverboard controversy again demonstrates that the best way to ensure safety is to bolster compliance through improved enforcement efforts against non-compliant manufacturers, importers and shippers of products containing lithium ion batteries.