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Pilots’ Association Files Proposals to Limit State of Charge on Lithium ion Batteries Contained in Equipment and Vehicles When Shipped by Air

In anticipation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel Meeting scheduled for mid-November, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Association (IFALPA) has filed five proposals that would establish new state of charge limits  on lithium ion batteries contained in equipment and vehicles when shipped by air.  Generally, the proposed limitations would require lithium ion cells and batteries to be offered for transport at the “lowest practical state of charge but not exceeding 30% of the rated energy capacity.”  PRBA is working with numerous associations in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea to respond to IFALPA’s  proposals.

For more information on the proposals, please contact George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected].

EPA to Host Stakeholder Workshop to Address Fires from End-of-Life Management of Lithium-ion Batteries

On October 5, 2021, US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery will hold a multi-stakeholder workshop to address fires from end-of-life management of lithium-ion batteries. The workshop will connect EPA with stakeholders from throughout the lithium-ion battery lifecycle to discuss solutions to this critical end-of-life issue.

The workshop will take place at the US EPA William Ruckelshaus Conference Center, located in the W.J. Clinton East Building at 1201 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC, and is planned to run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

More details will be made available over the next several weeks, including registration information and a detailed agenda. In addition, EPA is working to arrange a block of hotel rooms at a government rate. Please note that space will be limited and EPA will be working to ensure that representation from stakeholder groups is balanced.

If you have questions or need more information about this workshop, please contact Kathy Lett at [email protected] or (703) 605-0761 or Mary Beth Sheridan at [email protected] or (703) 308-4941.

 

PRBA Backs California Senate Bill Aiming To Reduce Improper Disposal of Lithium Ion Batteries

The Rechargeable Battery Association welcomes California Senate passage of legislation addressing the improper disposal of consumer-type lithium ion batteries.

“Collectively, the provisions in this bill will help mitigate safety risks by significantly reducing the number of lithium ion batteries improperly disposed of in trash bins and recycling containers,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. “We strong encourage the Assembly to take action and pass this important legislation as quickly as possible.”

The Senate bill (SB-44) would prohibit any person from knowingly disposing of a lithium-ion battery in a container or receptacle intended for the collection of solid waste or recyclable materials unless it is designated for recycling of batteries. The legislation also requires CalRecycle and the Department of Toxic Substances Control to provide guidance for outreach to consumers and increase their awareness of the proper disposal of lithium-ion batteries. State agencies must develop a model protocol identifying best practices for managing discarded lithium-ion batteries and the suppression of fires.

PRBA Supports Legislation Introduced By Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) Provides Funding For Battery Recycling, Decreases U.S. Reliance on Mineral Imports

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association strongly supports a bipartisan battery recycling bill introduced by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) that would incentivize the recycling of portable batteries and decrease U.S. dependence on critical mineral imports essential to the clean energy economy.

“PRBA and its members appreciate Senator King’s efforts to secure federal funding that would help facilitate the safe and efficient collection of portable batteries in the U.S,” said George Kerchner, Executive Director, PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association. “In turn, this would help establish a U.S.-based supply chain of critical minerals for use in the production of high-capacity batteries and many clean energy technologies.”

Kerchner thanked Sen. King for reaching out to PRBA and other stakeholders for input before the legislation was introduced.

The legislation establishes a mechanism for funding research, encouraging outreach and establishing best practices on battery collection and recycling. Sen. King’s efforts also align with PRBA’s recommendations recently filed with the Department of Energy on growing a U.S. supply chain of critical minerals and supporting domestic high-capacity battery recycling operations.
Details of the legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) can be found here.

PRBA Responds To US DOE Request For Information On Risks In The High-Capacity Batteries Supply Chain

Recommends the U.S. Focus On Three Areas Of Supply Chain Supply And Growth

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association has filed comments responding to the U.S. Department of Energy’s request for information on the risks facing the supply chain for high-capacity batteries, including electric vehicle batteries.

In its 12-page response, PRBA identified three areas that will help DOE establish a robust and competitive ecosystem for battery manufacturing and supply in the United States.

Those areas of supply chain establishment and growth are:

  • Growing America’s supply of the raw materials for lithium-ion and lithium metal battery manufacturing, including the support of domestic recycling operations
  • Developing new lithium-ion and lithium metal cell production in both the U.S. and allied countries
  • Expanding domestic battery pack assembly operations and demand for U.S.-made packs

PRBA’s comments describe in detail why high-capacity lithium ion and lithium metal batteries have become so critical to global economic security and the global system for lithium battery production and supply. PRBA also explains how the U.S. can build its own secure and resilient supply chain for these critical products.

“Currently, the United States lags in all areas of the lithium battery supply chain, including access to critical raw materials, cell production, battery assembly, and recycling. This situation should not be allowed to become permanent, and with swift, decisive action, it need not become so,” PRBA emphasized.

For more information or a copy of PRBA’s comments, contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected].

PRBA Seeks Relief from U.S. Transport Regulations for Companies Transporting Lithium Batteries as Part of Normal Business Operation

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association has filed a petition for rulemaking with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) seeking regulatory relief for companies that transport lithium batteries in direct support of their principal businesses pursuant to the “Materials of Trade” (MoT) exceptions found in the U.S. hazardous materials regulations.

PRBA’s petition is one of several actions recently undertaken to support the Biden Administration’s February 14 Executive Order directing government agencies to develop a sustainable supply chain for high-capacity batteries in the United States.  This effort includes a complete ecosystem involving cell and battery manufacturing, downstream producers of goods incorporating batteries, and battery recycling (and re-generation of materials derived therefrom). This can be accomplished in many ways, including updating provisions in the hazardous materials regulations that inhibit the development and safe transport of lithium batteries in the U.S.

Securing regulatory relief without compromising safety is a key feature of PRBA’s petition. The petition seeks the addition of a new provision in the MoT exceptions for a specific net weight limit applicable to lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, improved packaging requirements, and new hazard communication requirements for batteries or packages exceeding 30 kg.  The amendments to the MoT exceptions advocated by PRBA would provide substantial benefits for many industries that transport these relatively small quantities (i.e., < 500 kg) of lithium batteries as part of their regular business operations.

Contact PRBA at [email protected] for a copy of the petition for rulemaking.

PRBA Participates in International Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum

PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association recently participated in the 9th World Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum (WRBRF), joining the leaders from RECHARGE (the Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Batteries Industry Association in Europe), the Battery Association of Japan (BAJ) and the Korea Battery Industry Association (KBIA).

The WRBRF 2021conference, held virtually March 30-31, focused on the many issues confronting the rechargeable battery and recycling industries, including battery collection and recycling legislative proposals, battery safety, dangerous goods transportation regulations, export restrictions, International Fire Code proposals on lithium battery storage requirements, and battery testing standards.

“The battery industry is a global industry. The WRBRF as always provided an unparalleled opportunity for leaders of the international battery community to discuss ongoing regulatory developments in Asia, Europe and the United States,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

Kerchner discussed recent regulatory developments in the United States, specifically federal and state battery collection and recycling legislation, implications of OSHA’s proposed rulemaking on lithium ion batteries, and fire code proposals relevant to the collection and storage of lithium batteries.

With the head of RECHARGE, Kerchner also spoke about global transport regulations and proposals to amend these regulations, including a UN working group developing new classification and testing requirements for lithium batteries.

President Biden Executive Order Supports “High-capacity Batteries,” Electric Vehicles

President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on February 24, 2021 instituting a formal, national strategy to develop more resilient and secure supply chains across the U.S. The EO calls for a comprehensive review of domestic production, research and development capabilities, and the formulation of strategies to strengthen “critical sectors.” One of the critical sectors specifically identified in the EO is “high-capacity batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles.” (The other sectors include pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), critical minerals and rare earth elements, and semiconductors.)

The Secretary of Energy will be responsible for preparing, in consultation with the heads of other federal agencies, a report identifying risks in the supply chain for high-capacity batteries and policy recommendations to address these risks. The report is intended to address a lengthy list of issues including, but not limited to:

  • the critical goods and materials underlying the supply chain;
  • the manufacturing or other capabilities necessary to produce the materials, including emerging capabilities;
  • the risks or other contingencies that may disrupt, strain, compromise, or eliminate the supply chain; and
  • the resilience and capacity of American manufacturing supply chains and the industrial and agricultural base to support national and economic security and emergency preparedness.

PRBA will be closely monitoring the developments resulting from this EO since it could result in changes to domestic and international trade policy and federal laws and regulations.  For more information, contact George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected].

PRBA Strongly Endorses CPSC’s Safety Warning on 18650 Lithium ion Battery Cells

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association applauds the Safety Warning issued today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the safe use of 18650 lithium ion battery cells.  PRBA’s policy on the use of these and other cylindrical lithium ion battery cells explains how manufacturers of these products never intended them to be sold to consumers as loose, replaceable power sources without the necessary safety protection features.  Doing so may put consumers’ safety at risk.

Because safety is PRBA’s No. 1 priority, for years we have urged consumers to avoid handling or using loose (stand-alone) 18650s.  CPSC’s Safety Warning will help drive that message home

PRBA Successfully Secures Changes to United Nations Lithium Battery Transport Regulations

At its 57th session this week in Geneva, the United Nations (UN) Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods agreed to adopt several proposals filed by PRBA and its European counterpart RECHARGE to amend the international  dangerous goods  regulations affecting the labeling, packaging and transport of lithium batteries.

“We are very pleased the Subcommittee agreed with our amendments, which will provide financial and regulatory relief for our members without compromising the safe transport of lithium batteries,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

The proposals from PRBA and RECHARGE that were adopted this week by the UN Subcommittee and go into effect on January 1, 2023 include:

  • Elimination of the phone number currently required on the lithium battery mark. This change will save PRBA members thousands of dollars annually in cost without compromising safety.
  • Amendments to packaging requirements for large lithium batteries to provide relief from stringent UN packaging requirements. This change will be particularly helpful for PRBA members shipping lithium ion batteries from China where these packaging requirements are often misinterpreted by port authorities and transport agencies.
  • Amendments to the packaging requirements applicable to large, damaged or defective lithium batteries will authorize more than one battery per package.
  • Amendments to the lithium battery test summary that will simplify compliance with this new requirement that went into effect January 1, 2020. This proposal had substantial industry support and was co-authored by seven trade associations.

It was the second time this year the UN Subcommittee met virtually to complete their work, and they successfully navigated the challenges of having 25 countries, 30 NGOs, and numerous interpreters participating through an Internet-based format over multiple time zones.

For more information on PRBA’s activities at the UN dangerous goods transport meetings, contact George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected].

PRBA Annual Meeting Covers Host of Regulatory and Legislative Challenges Facing Industry

PRBA held its annual membership meeting virtually on November 12, 2020 to update members on a host of regulatory and legislative issues the association has been working on this year and provide insight on what challenges can be expected in 2021. Guest speakers for the virtual meeting included officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency, and Captain Bob Brown, UPS, and Vice President Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations.

Topics covered during the meeting included updates on:

  • State and federal battery collection and recycling legislation;
  • U.S. and international lithium battery dangerous goods transportation regulations;
  • Fire code proposals impacting the storage of lithium batteries;
  • New EPA reporting requirements associated with the storage of lithium ion batteries;
  • OSHA position on lithium batteries as articles and related safety data sheet (SDS) requirements:
  • Wassenaar Arrangement and limits on secondary cell energy density limits; and
  • The World Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum planned for March 2021.

For more information on PRBA’s activities, please contact George Kerchner at [email protected].

PRBA Issues Report on Meeting of the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel and Possible Impacts on the Air Transport of Lithium Batteries

PRBA recently issued its report on the meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) Working Group, which met virtually to address issues associated with the transport of dangerous good by air, including several proposals on lithium batteries. In addition to the lithium battery proposals, PRBA’s report summarizes the DGP Working Group’s discussions on SAE’s work on the AS6413 lithium battery packaging standard, the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) testing program on lithium batteries, and ICAO’s plans for intersessional meetings on Energy Storage Devices.

For more information on PRBA’s report and related transport activities, please contact George Kerchner at [email protected].

PRBA Opposes NTSB’s Lithium Battery Recommendations Cites Risk to Medical Patients, Threat to U.S. Military, Harm to U.S. Lithium Battery Industry

PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association challenged the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations that would ban shipments by air of prototype lithium batteries.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s  Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, PRBA warned that implementation of the NTSB’s recommendations would prevent its members from operating globally and “endanger the safety of medical patients” who depend on lithium batteries to power life-saving medical devices such as ventilators. Likewise, the NTSB’s recommendations “would jeopardize the ability of the United States military” to protect combat soldiers using equipment powered by lithium batteries.

PRBA challenged the NTSB’s opinion that addressed purported safety “gaps” in regulations governing the transport of prototype lithium batteries by air. The NTSB’s recommendations followed its investigation of a single incident involving one air shipment of lithium ion batteries. The batteries were shipped by a battery manufacturer who failed to comply with nearly all mandatory requirements of the U.S. hazardous material regulations (HMR) and International Civil Aviation Organizations Technical Instructions.  Nor did the company apply for and obtain a required special permit from the DOT to ship their prototype lithium batteries by air. These special permits ensure the batteries are safe for transport and would have revealed the manufacturing design defects of the battery involved in the incident investigated by the NTSB.

“In short, the battery manufacturer’s failure to comply with the U.S. HMR and ICAO Technical Instructions and the poorly designed battery led to this incident,” PRBA said.

PRBA also disagreed with the NTSB’s finding that U.S. DOT Special Permit 20323 fails to provide sufficient testing and evaluation of prototype lithium batteries. According to shipping data compiled by DOT, 136 air shipments of prototype lithium batteries have been safely made under SP 20323. Not a single incident has been reported since the permit was first issued in January 2017, the letter noted.

“We share NTSB’s concern with the safe transport of lithium batteries by air,” but disagree with its recommendations, which punish companies who are taking all the steps necessary to comply with U.S, and international air transport regulations, the letter stated.

“One company’s failure to comply with the U.S. and international lithium battery air transport regulations and its poor battery manufacturing and design capabilities should not be used as justification for amending the regulations or claiming there is a ‘gap’ in the existing lithium battery regulatory structure,” the letter concluded.

Rather than banning air shipments of prototype lithium batteries, PRBA encouraged DOT to share with international dangerous goods aviation authorities its regulatory and technical expertise on issuing lithium battery special permits and approvals that the department  has acquired over the past 30  years.

U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Issues Recommendations to Prohibit Transport of Prototype Lithium ion Batteries by Air

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released on June 8, 2020 a Safety Recommendation Report that calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to carry to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel a proposal to prohibit the transport of prototype lithium ion batteries by air and eliminate from 49 CFR the provision that authorizes the transport of prototype lithium batteries by air.

The NTSB’s Recommendations resulted from their investigation into a June 2016 fire involving a shipment of prototype lithium ion batteries that started on a Canadian FedEx local delivery truck.  The 2400 Wh batteries had originally been transported by air on two separate FedEx cargo aircraft and off-loaded in Toronto.

The NTSB’s Hazardous Materials Accident Brief includes a failure analysis of the batteries involved in the incident and an evaluation of the battery design.  The probable cause of the incident according to the NTSB was directly related to the battery design and failure of the shipper to comply with the U.S. and international dangerous goods transport regulations.

For more information on this issue, please contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner at [email protected].

U.S. Department of Transportation Agrees with PRBA’s Request to Postpone Compliance Date Associated with UN38.3 Lithium Battery Test Summary

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published its HM-215O Harmonization Final Rule on May 11, 2020 that includes several amendments to the lithium battery provisions in 49 CFR 173.185 of the U.S. hazardous materials regulations.

In the Final Rule, the Agency agreed with PRBA’s request for a January 1, 2022 compliance date for the UN38.3 lithium battery Test Summary in order to give companies additional time to comply with this new requirement.

Please contact George Kerchner at [email protected] for more information on the implications of the Final Rule as it relates to lithium batteries.

PRBA Begins Work on NFPA and International Fire Code Battery Storage Proposals

The Fire Code Committee at PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association recently convened to start working on new battery storage proposals that could be incorporated into Chapter 14 of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 855 standard and the International Fire Code (IFC).

While the primary concern among fire code officials is the storage of lithium ion batteries, the efforts now underway to develop new provisions for the IFC will likely impact all battery chemistries.

Chapter 14 of NFPA 855 (Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems) currently addresses the storage of used and off-specification batteries. However, the NFPAA 855 task group responsible for drafting changes to Chapter 14 is considering whether to expand its scope to cover new batteries. The work developed by this task group will serve as the basis for amending the IFC, which currently does not include specific provisions on battery storage.

Changes to Chapter 14 in NFPA 855 and the IFC will have very significant impacts on PRBA members and a broad range of industries. These include, but are not limited to, battery manufacturers and recyclers, retailers, electric vehicle manufacturers and repair facilities, testing labs, and battery distributors.

For further information, please contact George Kerchner at [email protected] or Susan Bernard at [email protected]. Both George and Susan are active in the NFPA 855 Chapter 14 task group and IFC’s Fire Code Action Committee (FCAC).

PRBA Files Three Co-Authored Proposals to Amend the UN’s Lithium Battery Transport Regulations

Amendments Include Modification of New Test Summary Requirement

In preparation for the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods meeting scheduled for June 29 – July 8, 2020, PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association has filed three proposals in cooperation with several other associations to amend the lithium battery regulations found in the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations.

The papers address the following lithium battery-related transport issues:

  • Compliance with the new Test Summary requirement
  • Elimination of a the phone number on the lithium battery mark
  • Packaging for large format lithium batteries exceeding 400 kg

The proposal on the lithium battery Test Summary was co-authored by PRBA and six other trade association participants in the UN Sub-Committee meeting whose members have been impacted by the new Test Summary requirement that took effect January 1, 2020.

All of the proposals will be posted this week to the UN’s website at https://www.unece.org/trans/main/dgdb/dgsubc3/c32020.html.

Industry Rises Against Dangers of Rogue Lithium Battery Shipments

As the threat of mis-declared or ill-packaged shipments carrying lithium batteries looms large, the aviation industry is joining forces to fight the menace. As e-commerce and demand for cleaner technology grows, the demand for lithium batteries is also seeing an upward trend. It’s time this industry affair got more attention to make aviation safer.

The difference between the words compliant and complaint is not just the placement of two alphabets. When compliance is compromised, complaints over security become inevitable. That safety is aviation’s top priority is stating an obvious fact. What is not obvious though is the threat to this safety brought about by the rising of rogue shipping incidents.

Full article available here.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – But Be Safe, PRBA Reminds Holiday Flyers Traveling with Lithium Batteries

Washington (December 17, 2019) – PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today released its 2019 holiday safety message for airline passengers traveling with either lithium batteries or battery-powered devices, including cameras, chargers, laptops, mobile phones, toys, video games, e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

“With all the bustle and excitement of the holidays, it’s sometimes easy for airline passengers to overlook Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for lithium batteries and battery-powered devices and gifts placed in checked luggage and carry-ons,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

U.S. airlines are predicted to fly 47.5 million passengers over the 2019 holiday season, which starts December 18 and ends January 5, an increase of three percent from 2018.
Here are some simple FAA rules for air travelers.

  • Spare lithium batteries are strictly prohibited in checked luggage but are permitted in carry-ons.
  • The FAA recommends but does not require that battery-powered devices be placed in carry-on luggage whenever possible. If carried in checked baggage, the devices must be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage.
  • Battery-powered E-cigarettes, vaporizers and vape pens are prohibited in checked luggage but are permitted in carry-ons.

The FAA website provides detailed, user-friendly information for airline passengers traveling with batteries.

Time to Crack Down on Hidden Lithium ion Battery Shipments, says Air Cargo

(Loadstar.com) – December 12, 2019
Alex Lennane

Governments must begin issuing fines and penalties for manufacturers that make counterfeit batteries or mis-label lithium battery shipments.

In yet another rare example of the air cargo industry working together, IATA, FIATA, Tiaca and the Global Shippers’ Forum have urged governments to step up and enforce regulations. The aim is to prevent the transport of mis-labelled, non-compliant and potentially dangerous lithium ion batteries.

IATA claims consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing by 17% annually – which has led to “an increase in the number of incidents in which rogue shippers are not complying”, said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for cargo and security. “The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties.”

The incident reporting tool is an information-sharing platform which will target instances of mis-declared consignments. The system works in real time and allows participants to report any “acts of deliberate or intentional concealment and misdeclaration”.

The partners are also launching a campaign on the dangers of undeclared or mis-reported shipments, via a series of seminars globally, but targeting countries which have a particular problem. They are also starting an education and awareness programme for customs authorities in collaboration with the World Customs Organisation.

A third aspect of the campaign is supporting a “joined-up” approach. The UK, New Zealand, France and the Netherlands have an initiative to adopt a “cross-domain approach to include aviation security, manufacturing standards, customs and consumer protection agencies”.

While air cargo is scanned for items that pose a risk to security, like explosives, there is no similar measure for safety: screening for lithium batteries. But in the US there could be moves to change this. Executive director of the US Airforwarders’ Association Brandon Fried said in October: “We think canines can be trained to spot unidentified lithium ion batteries.” He added that there was little else the industry could do, particularly in the US, which was mainly an importer. “I am still concerned that governments are not stepping up to the lithium battery threat. They put the responsibility on forwarders and airlines, but what are governments doing to ensure standards are not a danger to the public?

“Many of the [culprit] companies are outside the US – so here it’s about awareness. But it’s a concern,” said Mr Fried.

The partnering associations have also called on governments to enforce rules more strictly.

“Safety is aviation’s top priority,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo. “Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties. “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for stopping rogue producers and exporters. Abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

James Hookham, GSF secretary general, added: “Responsible shippers rely on government enforcement of standards to protect their investment in training and safe operating procedures. Air freight remains a vital link in international supply chains and it is essential that the rules for ensuring the safe movement of all cargoes are understood and acted on by all parties involved.”

U.S. EPA Issues Draft TSCA Risk Evaluation for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP); “Unreasonable Risk” Determination Poses Significant Implications for Lithium ion Battery Manufacturers

The U.S. EPA recently published its draft TSCA Risk Evaluation (draft RE) for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) (CAS RN 872-50-4). NMP is a substance used in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries. The draft RE identifies industrial and commercial uses that EPA has deemed to present an unreasonable risk to the health of workers or consumers. Unreasonable risk is the trigger for TSCA regulation. Of particular interest to the lithium ion battery industry, EPA made an unreasonable risk determination for industrial and commercial use of NMP “[a]s a solvent (for cleaning or degreasing) use in electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing and for other uses in manufacturing lithium ion batteries.” Because NMP is used in the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries, manufacturers of lithium ion batteries will be considered “processors” under TSCA.

While an unreasonable risk determination does not necessarily mean that EPA will automatically ban NMP for lithium ion battery manufacturing, the Agency has taken such an approach on chemicals previously determined to present unreasonable risks. Instead, EPA could require certain types of control measures to mitigate risks associated with the manufacture of lithium ion batteries. Risk management measures may include requirements to use personal protective equipment (PPE) or other requirements EPA considers appropriate to lower exposure to susceptible populations. Once NMP’s RE is finalized, the risk management process will begin and can be expected to take two to three years to complete.

EPA is accepting comments on the draft RE through Monday, January 6, 2020. Additionally, EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) is hosting an in-person meeting on December 5-6, 2019 to review the draft RE.

More information on the upcoming meetings can be found here.

Contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner for questions on PRBA’s planned comments on this EPA proposal.

PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner Appointed to Key Federal and State Advisory Groups for Lithium Battery Industry

PRBA Executive Director has been named to serve in two key roles advising federal and state agencies on legislative and regulatory matters impacting the safe transport of lithium ion batteries and the recycling of automotive lithium ion batteries.

First, the U.S. Department of Transportation invited Mr. Kerchner to serve a two-year term on its Lithium Battery Safety Advisory Committee. This Advisory Committee was established by the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act. It consists of 20 individuals from a range of industries and government agencies. The Committee is expected to provide the Secretary of Transportation with information and recommendations on new lithium battery technology, the safe transport of lithium batteries by air, and improving airline passenger awareness related to the safe handling of lithium batteries.

Second, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) appointed Mr. Kerchner to its Lithium-Ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group. That Advisory Group was established in accordance with the 2018 California law known as AB 2832. It is expected to prepare policy recommendations to maximize safe and cost-effective recycling efforts for end-of-life lithium ion vehicle batteries. The Advisory Group will develop its recommendations between now and April 2022 in consultation with universities and research institutions, manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles, and the battery recycling industry.

PRBA Files Proposals with United Nations Transport Subcommittee to Amend Lithium Battery Transport and Testing Regulations

PRBA along with its European counterpart (RECHARGE) have filed several proposals with the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to amend the lithium battery packaging and testing requirements in the UN’s Model Regulations and Manual of Tests and Criteria. The proposals will be addressed at the Subcommittee’s meeting scheduled for December 2- 6, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The proposals from PRBA and RECHARGE address the following issues:

  • Packaging requirements for large format lithium batteries to clarify when relief from stringent UN packaging requirements are authorized;
  • Provisions applicable to the transport of damaged or defective lithium batteries;
  • Testing large format lithium batteries and clarifying the overcharge testing requirements; and
  • Packaging for “bulk” shipments of lithium batteries.

Additional proposals on lithium batteries are expected from the U.S. Department of Transportation, United Kingdom, and European-based Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail. All of the proposals are available on the UN Subcommittee’s website at: http://www.unece.org/trans/main/dgdb/dgsubc3/c32019.html

For more information, contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected].

PRBA Highlights Battery Safety At FTC ‘Right to Repair’ Workshop

Executive Director George Kerchner focused on battery safety concerns at a Federal Trade Commission workshop held today on right to repair policy.

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries have become the preferred power source for a vast array of consumer battery-powered products such as cellular phones, tablets, medical devices, power tools and hybrid and electric vehicles, Kerchner said in prepared remarks delivered at the FTC workshop.

“I appear here today to reemphasize PRBA’s commitment to the safe handling of those products and their batteries, and to discourage new rules or policy from the FTC relating to ‘right to repair’ that would exacerbate the fire risks arising from their mishandling,” Kerchner stated.

Many lithium ion batteries look alike. Yet these batteries are typically manufactured to custom specifications to ensure they work with a specific device. Lithium batteries are not interchangeable, Kerchner noted. “To the contrary, device manufacturers work closely with their battery suppliers to design a safe and dependable battery that can be securely installed in their device to maximize safety,” Kercher said.

Mishandling of lithium ion batteries, including inept or unauthorized repair efforts, can pose significant safety risks, including thermal runaway, which can cause fires, despite ongoing safety efforts of battery manufacturers, Kerchner noted during a panel discussion on the arguments for and against repair restrictions.

As for the ubiquitous consumer electronic, most are powered by sophisticated battery safety systems and cannot be easily dismantled other than by properly trained professionals. “Changing any of these components by consumers or untrained service technicians would require full reevaluation of the entire system to assure that safety has not been compromised,” Kerchner emphasized.

“Ultimately, manufacturers are trying to make sure that customers are satisfied with their products in a highly competitive marketplace for electronic devices – and that includes keeping them safe. It also includes offering repair polices that meet customers’ needs and prioritizes safe repair practices through authorized providers,” Kerchner said.

Kerchner even questioned whether framing the headline issue at the FTC workshop as “repair restrictions” is helpful. “When it comes to batteries, we are talking about product design decisions and authorized repair options that manufacturers provide to help maximize battery and device safety and longevity for the benefit of consumers,” Kerchner stated.

DOT and EPA Announce Workshops on the Safe Handling of Lithium Batteries for Disposal and Recycling

During last month’s membership meeting, Kevin Leary with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) joined us to speak to membership about his agency’s recent collaborative efforts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the disposal and recycling of lithium batteries. The two agencies are hosting four one-day workshops over the next several months. These workshops will be led by subject matter experts from the Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team under the DOT and hosted by EPA. The workshops will focus on the safe transportation of lithium batteries for recycling and the applicable regulations that must be followed by battery recyclers. The workshops are designed for individuals in the battery recycling industry who need a working knowledge of the regulations, or who provide training to their employees on the applicable regulations. They will include an overview on the latest regulatory requirements on proper lithium battery packaging, marking, and labeling and as well as a basic understanding of how to apply the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

For more information, click here.

California Legislature Introduces Lithium ion Battery Product Stewardship Bill

Two members of the California State Assembly have introduced AB 1509 that, if enacted, would require establishment of a used lithium ion battery stewardship program by manufacturers and retailers.

The bill is intended to address the fire safety problems purportedly facing municipal recycling programs from the collection of used batteries. The bill is titled the “LITHIUM-ION BATTERY FIRE PREVENTION ACT,” and its Section 1 references some of these fires and the risks purportedly posed by lithium ion batteries. One of the bill’s sponsors also prepared an explanatory document.

The bill will first be heard by the Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxics Review (ES&TR) Committee on Tuesday, April 9th.

IATA Highlights Challenges with Non-Compliant Lithium Battery Shippers, Lack of Government Enforcement

Rogue shippers’ risk to lithium air cargo safety

Lithium batteries pose risks for air cargo safety because of “rogue shippers” and a failure to enforce regulations, the head of the trade body for the world’s airlines has warned.

Alexandre de Juniac (right), director-general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the batteries “can be shipped safely if properly labelled and packaged”.

But de Juniac said: “With respect to the safety of air cargo, transport of lithium batteries is the most topical issue.”

“The problem is that the global standards are being ignored by rogue shippers,” de Juniac told the World Cargo Symposium in Singapore.

And the IATA chief accused governments of “not enforcing the rules”— such as global technical standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IATA’s dangerous goods regulations.

“In some cases, we see more effort going into stopping counterfeit production of Louis Vuitton bags than lithium batteries,” de Juniac added. “Lithium batteries are a safety risk and we need governments to do better at enforcement.”

De Juniac’s remarks came just weeks after the US said airlines would be barred from carrying “potentially hazardous lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft”.

The crackdown means the US is adopting ICAO requirements that have been in force in other countries since 2016.

PRBA, Trade Groups Urge DOT to Delay Immediate Enforcement of New Package Labeling Rules for Lithium Batteries Shipped by Highway and Rail

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association with seven other trade associations have asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay enforcement of new mandates to place additional labels on packages of lithium ion cells and batteries shipped by highway or rail.

In a letter to a DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration official, the eight trade associations reiterated their support for the Agency’s efforts to harmonize the U.S. lithium battery air transport regulations with more stringent international standards. However, the associations noted the necessity for a new compliance deadline of no earlier than July 6, 2019 for highway and rail transport “to allow time for implementation of the new package label requirement without unduly disrupting transportation and commerce.”

This concern is “substantial,” the letter noted, because “a very large volume of new and used lithium ion batteries are shipped and transported daily by highway and rail in the U.S. that are now subject to the new label requirements.”

PHMSA’s new label requirement is part of the agency’s long-awaited Interim Final Rule intended to harmonize the U.S. lithium battery hazardous materials regulations with the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods.

However, PHMSA provided no warning that a new rule would address a new label for packages of lithium ion batteries shipped by road or rail or impose a March 6 compliance deadline, the letter said.

As a result, “thousands of offerors and carriers who in good faith comply with applicable rules likely now find themselves out of compliance because, as a practical matter, they are unable to immediately obtain new labels, train personnel, and implement new labeling procedures,” the letter said.

PHMSA should issue a “Notice of Enforcement Policy” that would allow time for implementation of the new requirement and stipulate that no enforcement action be taken until July 6 against companies and shippers currently in compliance with the existing regulations when the agency issued its March 6 Interim Final Rule, the letter recommended.

The letter’s signatories are:

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association
Medical Device Battery Transport Council
Council On Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles
Dangerous Goods Advisory Council

Power Tool Institute
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
International Vessel Operators Dangerous Goods Association

U.S. Department of Transportation New Lithium Battery Interim Final Rule Has Immediate Impact on All Modes of Transport

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published on March 6, 2019 its long-awaited lithium battery Interim Final Rule (IFR) that is intended to generally harmonize the U.S. lithium ion and lithium metal battery hazardous materials regulations (HMR) with the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.  The new requirements in the IFR took effect on March 6th.

There are several key provisions applicable to the air transport of lithium ion cells and batteries that are being adopted through this rulemaking.  These include:

  1. Limiting lithium ion cells and batteries to 30% state of charge (SOC). This SOC limit does not apply to cells and batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
  2. Prohibiting lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft. Again, this prohibition does not apply to cells and batteries packed with or contained in equipment.  In addition, PHMSA is providing a limited exception from this prohibition for lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries designed to power medical devices.
  3. Limiting the use of excepted lithium ion and lithium metal cell and battery shipments to one package per consignment.

Another important aspect of the IFR is that the U.S. DOT now requires an additional package mark and label for excepted lithium ion cells (≤ 20 Wh) and batteries (≤ 100 Wh) when shipped by highway or rail in the U.S.  The new package mark and label requirements, which took effect March 6th, are generally consistent with what has been required in the U.S. since December 2004 for shipping excepted lithium metal cells and batteries by motor vehicle or rail.

Public comments on the IFR must be filed with the U.S. DOT by May 6, 2019.

OSHA Issues New Safety Bulletin on “Preventing Fire and/or Explosion Injury from Small and Wearable Lithium Battery Powered Devices”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin entitled, “Preventing Fire and/or Explosion Injury from Small and Wearable Lithium Battery Powered Devices.”  The Bulletin includes a number of lithium battery safety guidelines that the Agency suggests employers could use as part of their safety and health program.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring lithium batteries, chargers, and associated equipment are tested in accordance with an appropriate test standard (e.g., UL 2054) and certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) and are rated for their intended uses.
  • Following manufacturers’ instructions for storage, use, charging, and maintenance.
  • Removing lithium-powered devices and batteries from chargers once they are fully charged.
  • Storing lithium batteries and devices in dry, cool locations and in fire-resistant containers.

A copy of OSHA’s Bulletin is available here.

PRBA Files Comments on U.S. Department of Transportation Harmonization Rulemaking

PRBA filed on January 28th extensive comments on the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) HM-215O harmonization rulemaking.  PRBA conveyed their support for PHMSA’s efforts to harmonize the U.S. hazardous materials regulations with the international dangerous goods regulations, but also identified two issues of concern.

PRBA’s concerns relate to the proposed Test Summary requirement that takes effect internationally on January 1, 2020 and the Agency’s proposal to add “large” UN packaging for lithium batteries shipped for disposal or recycling.  A copy of PRBA’s comments are available here.

PRBA’s Message to Holiday Flyers Traveling With Lithium Batteries: Follow Santa In Making a Safety List And Checking It Twice

Be Merry and Bright, But Safe When Flying with Batteries

PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today released its annual holiday safety reminder for airline passengers traveling with lithium batteries and battery-powered electronic devices, including laptops, mobile phones, toys, video games, e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

“The holiday season is exciting and stressful for holiday travelers, whether heading home for the holidays or going on vacation. With air travel predicted to jump 5.2 per cent from in 2017 to 45.7 million during this year’s 18-day holiday season, PRBA urges passengers to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for lithium batteries and battery-powered devices placed in checked luggage and carry-ons,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

Travelers should be aware that many airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines and Delta do not allow “smart luggage” containing lithium ion batteries onboard the aircraft.  Travelers should check with their airline to determine if smart luggage is permitted.  In some cases, travelers may check or carry on smart luggage if the lithium ion batteries are removed, then brought into the cabin.

Spare lithium batteries are strictly prohibited in checked luggage. The FAA recommends but does not require that battery-powered devices be placed in carry-on luggage whenever possible. If carried in checked baggage, the devices must be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage.

The FAA provides detailed, user-friendly information for airline passengers traveling with batteries. Please click here. to access the FAA’s website.

IATA Issues Updated Lithium Battery Guidance Document for 2019 with PRBA-Endorsed FAQ on New Test Summary Requirement

IATA released its annual Lithium Battery Guidance Document that includes a new FAQ on the lithium battery Test Summary.  The FAQ was originally prepared by PRBA, RECHARGE and MDBTC and filed with the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel.  The wide dissemination of the FAQ will help to ensure a consistent interpretation of the Test Summary requirements that take effect internationally on January 1, 2020.

For more information on the Test Summary requirements, contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner at [email protected].

Vermont Task Force Hears Testimony from PRBA Executive Director on Dangers of Unauthorized Electronics Repairs

Stories of exploding batteries provided a gripping illustration for policymakers at a Monday morning hearing on the sometimes abstract concept of “right to repair.”

“You’ve all seen the videos on YouTube of a hoverboard catching on fire,” George Kerchner, a lobbyist from the Rechargeable Battery Association, said to the lawmakers and state officials on a right to repair task force on Monday. Heads nodded in agreement.

“You’re talking about temperatures of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit; that’s our concern with unauthorized repair,” Kerchner said. “Consumers, unauthorized facilities pulling cells out and not fully understanding the risks is a very significant concern.”

Read fully story here.

Battery Industry Begins Public Safety Campaign against Misuse of Li-Ion Cells in E-Cigarettes

Contact: Todd Irons
(202) 729-4155

Manufacturers Also Urge Retailers and Government Agencies to Help Prevent Misuse of 18650 Power Cells in E-cigarettes

WASHINGTON, DC, October 15, 2018 – Leading battery manufacturers and industry trade groups have begun a nationwide consumer awareness campaign called Be-cigarettesafe that cautions users of e-cigarette and vaping devices of the risks associated with the misuse of replaceable lithium-ion power cells.

Manufacturers of these cells, commonly known as “18650” cells, never intended them to be used as stand-alone power sources in e-cigarette and vaping devices or to be handled directly by consumers as loose, replaceable power sources. Doing so may put consumers’ safety at risk.

“Members of the battery industry have an important warning for consumers: Don’t use or handle stand-alone 18650 cells, period,” said George Kerchner, executive director of PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association. “Leading manufacturers have warned consumers for some time about the risks of handling and misusing stand-alone 18650 cells. We want to continue educating consumers, which is why we have joined together in support of the Be-cigarettesafe campaign. Consumers need to know if they install an 18650 cell to use in their e-cigarette or vaping device, then it may not be safe.”

18650 lithium-ion battery cells are not intended for use in vaping and e-cigarette devices – they were designed as a power source for products such as building tools (drills, saws, etc.), medical devices, laptop computers, lawnmowers and similar products. These powerful cells are intended to be handled only by specialized manufacturers who assemble them in enclosed, safety-circuit protected battery packs or equipment. Placing a stand-alone 18650 cell in and out of an e-cigarette or vaping device, or in and out of a charger, can damage the cell’s insulating wrapper, or cause other internal damage to the cell, leading to a “thermal runaway” event and emission of flames or gasses from the cell. But some unauthorized third-parties are selling stand-alone 18650 cells to consumers for use in e-cigarette and vaping devices. In some cases, the 18650 cells being offered for sale were previously used for other applications, or “re-wrapped” with inaccurate and misleading labels.

The Be-cigarettesafe campaign was conceived by cell manufacturers, and supported by PRBA, The Advanced Rechargeable & Lithium Batteries Association, Korea Battery Industry Association, and Battery Association of Japan. Be-cigarettesafe is one of several safety campaigns launched this year to educate consumers on the safety issues associated with the use, and misuse, of lithium ion batteries. The campaign includes a series of online and digital display and video advertisements appearing on various consumer-facing websites and social media pages. The ads direct users to visit the campaign’s website, Be-cigarettesafe.org, where consumers can find information about how to avoid handling and misusing lithium-ion cells and how to determine if an e-cigarette and vaping device have non-removable batteries with built-in protection circuitry. The campaign wants consumers to know that Underwriters Laboratories, a leading global independent safety science company (UL), has developed a safety standard for e-cigarettes, and soon consumers will be able to look for the “UL” mark on e-cigarette and vaping devices to verify that they comply with UL’s stringent safety standard.

Association members have taken various actions to keep their cells out of consumers’ hands. These steps include posting warnings on their products and websites to emphasize 18650 cells are not intended for use with e-cigarettes and vaping devices, working with third party purchasers to emphasize proper and improper uses, and sending cease and desist letters to retailers. Part of the campaign will include sending retailers and vape shops a copy of the PRBA’s “Safety Policy on the Use and Handling of Stand-alone Cylindrical Lithium ion Cells,” (https://www.prba.org/wp-content/uploads/PRBA-Policy-on-Use-of-Stand-Alone-Li-ion-Cells-18.pdf), and directing them to the campaign’s website for additional information.

Supporters of the campaign have talked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about these issues and urge these agencies to help stop the use of stand-alone lithium-ion cells. “We need FDA’s help, supported by CPSC, to get stand-alone lithium-ion cells out of the hands of consumers by using the same enforcement tools FDA is using to address illegal marketing of e-cigs to minors, and that CPSC adopted to stop the distribution of poorly designed hoverboard products that were causing injuries and fires,” said Kerchner. “Leading cell manufacturer associations all support the need for FDA and CPSC assistance to help stop the misuse of lithium ion cells and we stand ready to continue working with these agencies to make this happen.”

# # #

PRBA Applauds Enactment of Bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Bill

New Law Enhances Safe Air Shipment of Lithium Batteries

Washington (October 15, 2018)PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association thanks Congress for bipartisan passage of a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and President Trump for signing the legislation into law.

“Most important, the FAA reauthorization will advance the safe air transport of lithium batteries and the array of products powered by those batteries, including consumer electronics and life-saving medical devices,” said George Kerchner, PRBA’s executive director.

PRBA advocated for several provisions included in the FAA reauthorization. The new statute: supports mandates that U.S. air transportation regulations for lithium batteries meet stringent international safety standards. The new law also:

  • Extends requirement that U.S. lithium battery air transport regulations to meet but not exceed stringent international safety standards
  • Requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to support industry participation in ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) activities.
  • Establishes a Lithium Battery Safety Working Group to encourage and coordinate efforts to promote the safe manufacturing, use and transportation of lithium cells and batteries. Its Members will include the Department of Transportation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration, plus eight battery experts.
  • Creates a Lithium Battery Air Safety Advisory Committee to facilitate government-industry dialogue on ways to improve the safe transport of small and large lithium batteries and cells
  • Requires DOT within six months to provide Congress with ways to improve the packaging of lithium cells and batteries shipped via air.
  • Requires federal regulators to cooperate to ensure the compliance of shippers of lithium batteries with safety regulations.
  • Allows the Secretary of Transportation to provide regulatory relief for life-saving medical device batteries used in products like defibrillators when shipped by air.

“PRBA enthusiastically endorsed the FAA Reauthorization and actively supported air safety provisions Congress included in the final legislation,” Kerchner said.

PRBA Hosts Meeting of Federal Inter-Agency Lithium Battery Task Force

PRBA hosted a very informative meeting on July 31, 2018 of the federal inter-agency lithium battery task force. Participants included officials from FDA, OSHA, EPA, PHMSA, FAA, CBP, DHS, CPSC, CBP, MARAD, and FMCSA. The meeting provided PRBA and our members an excellent opportunity to update the agencies on industry, regulatory, and legislative trends associated with the following lithium battery issues: transport, recycling, safety standards, secondary use, counterfeit and “knock off” batteries, hazardous waste classification, harmonized tariff schedule, and imports/exports. There were excellent presentations from PRBA members GM, Apple, Saft, and Fedco Batteries. PRBA materials from the meeting are available here.

Press Release – FAA Proposes $160,500 Civil Penalty Against Woodioso Technology for Alleged HazMat Violations

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S Department of Transportations Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $160,500 civil penalty against Woodioso Technology Limited of Hong Kong for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The FAA alleges that on January 3, 2017, Woodioso knowingly offered a shipment of 30 lithium ion batteries to United Parcel Service for shipment by air from Hong Kong to the companys service facility in Louisville, Kentucky.

United Parcel Service employees in Louisville discovered the batteries when the shipment arrived on January 4, 2017.

The FAA alleges Woodioso did not keep the batteries separated to prevent them from contacting each other during shipment. This type of improper packaging can create sparks or generate a dangerous evolution of heat. Improperly packaged lithium ion batteries are considered forbidden materials for air transportation.

The FAA also alleges that the shipments were not accompanied by a shippers declaration of dangerous goods and were not properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled or in the proper condition for shipment.

Additionally, the Agency alleges Woodioso failed to ensure that each of its employees received required hazardous materials training, and failed to provide emergency response information with the shipment.

Woodioso did not respond to the enforcement letter the FAA sent to the company in April 2018. Accordingly, the FAA last week issued the company a final notice explaining it has 15 days after receiving the notice to pay the proposed civil penalty, an otherwise agreed upon amount, or request a hearing.

USTR Announces New Tariff Proposals That May Impact Primary and Secondary Batteries Imported from China

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released on July 10th an additional list of Chinese goods that will potentially be subjected to 10% tariffs, including certain primary and secondary cell and battery products listed below.

8506.10.00 Manganese dioxide primary cells and primary batteries
8506.30.10 Mercuric oxide primary cells and primary batteries having an external volume not exceeding 300 cubic cm
8506.30.50 Mercuric oxide primary cells and primary batteries having an external volume exceeding 300 cubic cm
8506.80.00 Primary cells and primary batteries, nesoi
8507.10.00 Lead-acid storage batteries of a kind used for starting piston engines
8507.20.40 Lead-acid storage batteries of a kind used as the primary source of electrical power for electrically powered vehicles of 8703.90
8507.20.80 Lead-acid storage batteries other than of a kind used for starting piston engines or as the primary source of power for electric vehicles
8507.30.40 Nickel-cadmium storage batteries, of a kind used as the primary source of electrical power for electrically powered vehicles of 8703.90
8507.40.40 Nickel-iron storage batteries, of a kind used as the primary source of electrical power for electrically powered vehicles of 8703.90
8507.40.80 Nickel-iron storage batteries, other than of a kind used as the primary source of power for electric vehicles
8507.50.00 Nickel-metal hydride batteries

This latest list follows two prior lists of Chinese products announced by USTR on June 15th.  The first list covers 818 tariff lines (including certain batteries) with a trade value of $34 billion, which were subjected to 25% duties as of July 6th.  USTR’s second list covers 284 tariff lines (including more batteries) with a trade value of $16 billion.  These products may also be subject to 25% duties after a public comment and hearing period, which is currently underway.

Tariffs will not be put in place immediately on this latest list of Chinese products. USTR is requesting comments on the new list first, which are due by August 17th.  USTR will also conduct a hearing on August 20th.

ICC Fire Code Action Committee Endorses New Provisions for Used and Off Specification Lithium Batteries

The International Code Council’s Fire Code Action Committee (FCAC) on June 19, 2018 approved proposals on used and off specification lithium batteries for incorporation into the 2021 International Fire Code (IFC). The ICC will now accept public comments on these proposals until July 16, 2018, which will be posted on their website by August 31, 2018. The public comments will be addressed at the ICC’s Public Comment Hearing in Richmond, VA October 24 – 31, 2018.

Contact George Kerchner at [email protected] for more information.

USA Today Reports on Fire Risks from Lithium ion Batteries Placed in Trash and California Battery Awareness Campaign

On May 18, 2018, the USA Today reported on the potential fire risks from lithium ion batteries placed in the trash by consumers. The article notes that “65% of waste facilities fires in California last year began with lithium ion batteries.” California launched an awareness campaign to educate consumers on the need to keep the batteries out of the garbage trucks and landfills. The full article can be found here.

PRBA and Other Trade Groups File Proposals with UN Transport Agency to Address Testing Requirements, Shipments of Damaged/Defective Lithium Batteries

PRBA, in coordination with other industry associations, has filed a proposal with the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to amend shipping regulations addressing damaged/defective lithium batteries. The proposal stems from the ongoing regulatory challenges in defining what is considered a damaged/defective lithium battery and determining the type of packaging required.

A second proposal amends the UN38.3 testing requirements for primary lithium batteries. The third proposal seeks to amend or add a special provision on the shipping requirements associated with lithium batteries that are packed with equipment.

The UN Sub-Committee is scheduled to meet June 25 – 29, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact George Kerchner at [email protected] or 202.719.4109.

PRBA to Participate in EPA Webinar on Management Challenges for Lithium Batteries at Electronics Recyclers

George Kerchner, Executive Director of PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association, will participate in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency webinar on April 5 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 pm on the challenges of managing lithium batteries at electronics recycling facilities.

The EPA webinar will be presented as a panel discussion on the problems electronics recyclers are facing, recommended best practices for removal and transportation of lithium batteries, and suggestions for how electronics manufacturers and recyclers can work together to address these issues.

The webinar is a follow up to EPA’s March 22 webinar on lithium batteries and the challenges that they pose to the waste and recycling industries.

Other scheduled webinar speakers include:

    • Craig Boswell, the co-founder and president of HOBI International, Inc
    • Kevin Leary, an international transportation specialist with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
    • Neil Peters-Michaud, founder and CEO of Cascade Asset Management

IFC Fire Code Action Committee to Consider Proposals on Lithium ion Battery Storage Requirements

The International Code Council’s Fire Code Action Committee (FCAC) will meet on March 13 and 14 in Chicago to consider substantive changes to the IFC that address the storage of “used and off-spec” and new lithium ion batteries at retail locations and industrial facilities (e.g., battery recyclers and sorters).  PRBA will participate in the meeting and comment on proposals associated with lithium ion batteries.

The IFC currently lacks guidance on the protection levels necessary for the storage of lithium ion batteries.  One proposal on the FCAC’s agenda would classify lithium ion batteries as a “high-hazard commodity.” If approved by FCAC, the new commodity classification would provide guidance to IFC enforcement officials on general fire protection and life safety systems required where lithium ion batteries are stored.

For more information, contact George Kerchner at 202.719.4109 or [email protected]

EPA to Host Webinar on Lithium Batteries and Challenges They Pose to Waste and Recycling Industries

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be hosting a free webinar on An Introduction to Lithium Batteries and the Challenges that they Pose to the Waste and Recycling Industry.  The webinar is scheduled for March 22, 2018 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm EST.  According to the Agency’s website, the webinar “will cover the basics of lithium batteries, the impacts to the waste management industry, and information on lithium battery recycling.”  The speakers for the webinar include Carl Smith with Call2Recycle, Michael Timpane with RRS, and Jeffrey Spangenberger with Argonne National Laboratory.

PRBA Urges Holiday Flyers to Heed Battery Safety Rules

Washington (December 14, 2017) – PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today released its annual holiday safety guide for airline passengers traveling with lithium batteries and battery-powered electronic devices.

“Safety remains PRBA’s No. 1 priority. With air travel surging over the 21-day holiday season, PRBA reminds airline passengers to scrupulously follow U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for lithium batteries and battery-powered devices in checked baggage and carry-ons,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

In 2017, U.S. agencies, international regulators, trade associations and airlines all addressed the safety and security of the air transport of batteries on passenger aircraft. Passengers may be confused which safety requirements take effect this holiday season.

DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides detailed information with helpful charts for airline passengers traveling with batteries. Please click here.

Airline passengers should be aware that some of the more highly publicized battery safety issues in 2017 have neither been finalized nor will be in effect over the holidays.

  • The FAA has recommended that if battery-powered devices are packed in checked luggage, they should be completely turned off, protected from accidental activation and securely packed to ensure against damage. Most personal electronic devices, including laptops, cameras, cell phones and electronic games, are still permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • Several airlines recently announced a ban on “smart” luggage with nonremovable lithium ion batteries and restrictions on those with removable batteries. The ban and restrictions do not begin until January 15, 2018.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, has projected 51 million passengers will fly globally on U.S. airlines during the holiday period from December 15 through January 4, a 3.5 percent increase from 2016.

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

Prohibited in checked baggage and carry-ons

  • Damaged or recalled batteries
  • Samsung Note 7 smartphone
  • Hoverboard (Banned by most airlines)

Prohibited in checked baggage

  • Spare lithium ion and lithium metal batteries
  • Some medical devices
  • 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, damage and short-circuit
  • Dry cell batteries such as nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, and alkaline batteries

Permitted in carry-ons

  • Spare lithium ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating of no more than 100 watt hours
  • Spare lithium metal batteries, typically used in cameras and flashlights, containing no more than 2 grams of lithium content
  • No more than two spare larger-sized lithium ion batteries up to 160 watt hours but only with airline approval.
  • E-cigarettes, but no vaping or charging is allowed.

Airline passengers can also improve the safety of themselves and their fellow passengers by following the safety precautions listed below:

  • Keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, a separate pouch/pocket/baggie 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 by keeping your batteries and battery-powered devices in your carry-on bag when not using them

PHMSA Issues Notice on “Enforcement Discretion” and International Dangerous Goods Transport Regulations

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) just released the attached Notice regarding their “enforcement discretion” for offerors and carriers offering or accepting shipments made in accordance with 2017-2018 International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and Amendment 38-16 of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. The Notice also can be found on PHMSA’s website.

According to the Notice:

  • PHMSA “will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who is using the 2017-2018 versions of these standards when all or part of the transportation is by air with respect to the ICAO Technical Instructions, or all or part of the transportation is by vessel with respect to the IMDG Code.”
  • PHMSA also “will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who offers or accepts for domestic or international transportation by any mode packages marked or labeled in accordance with the 2017-18 versions.”
  • Use of either the 2015-2016 standards or the newer standards is authorized until the Notice is rescinded or otherwise modified.
  • The enforcement discretion will be exercised by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

This means the new lithium battery mark and new lithium battery Class 9 hazard label may be used when shipping from, to, or within the U.S.

Earlier this month PRBA sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao that was signed by 22 corporations and trade associations in which PRBA sought the earliest possible approval and publication of the HM-215N Harmonization Final Rule in order to harmonize the U.S. hazardous materials regulations with international dangerous goods regulations that took effect on January 1, 2017. While it appears the HM-215N Final Rule is still bogged down in the Trump Administration’s “regulatory freeze,” this Notice on agency enforcement discretion is a very positive development in response to the industry’s letter.

U.S. Postal Service Publishes Notice of Prospective Revision to Lithium Battery Mailing Standards

The United States Postal Service (USPS) published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2017, a Notice of Prospective Revision (NPR) to the agency’s lithium battery mailing standards. (34 Fed. Reg. 11,373.) The proposed revisions to Publication 52 – Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) are intended to reflect recent and anticipated changes to the lithium battery provisions in the U.S. hazardous materials regulations and International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions.

The most significant proposed revision is a prohibition on shipping lithium ion batteries by air via the USPS. The prohibition would not apply to equipment packed with or containing lithium ion batteries. The agency also is proposing new marking and packaging requirements for mail pieces containing lithium batteries.

Corporations and Trade Groups Ask DOT to Issue Hazmat Safety Rule Blocked by White House Regulatory Freeze

Corporations and Trade Groups Ask DOT to Issue Hazmat Safety Rule Blocked by White House Regulatory Freeze  

Washington (February 7, 2017) – In a letter sent on February 3rd to incoming Secretary of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, 22 corporations and trade associations sought “the earliest possible approval” of a final rule that would address hazmat transport safety issues by harmonizing the U.S. hazardous materials regulations with international dangerous goods standards that took effect on January 1, 2017.

The release and publication of DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration final rule was initially posted on the Federal Register website but was put on hold per the regulatory freeze imposed by the January 20 White House memorandum to the heads of all federal departments and agencies.

“Its promulgation will not create any new risks in transport. In fact, it will ensure the U.S. hazardous materials regulations maintain alignment with international standards, thus assuring safety and avoiding disruptions to supply chains,” the letter stated. “Avoidance of such disruption is critically important to all of the undersigned manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, exporters, importers, carriers, and industries,” the letter added.

“Our endorsement of the regulation also is consistent in our long-standing endorsement of harmonizing the U.S. HMR (hazardous materials regulations) with international standards. Harmonization avoids confusion among shippers, carriers and others in the logistics chain, maximizes safety, and reduces costs for U.S. businesses,” the letter said.

Signatories include numerous corporations and an array of trade associations representing airlines, battery and electronic product manufacturers, outdoor equipment and power tool manufacturers, the security industry, shippers of dangerous goods, and sporting arms and ammunition manufacturers.

PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said trade association members were prepared to comply with the PHMSA regulation’s new labeling, packaging and testing requirements for lithium batteries that match the stringent international standards. “Different regulations create a fog of confusion that undermines safety while forcing companies to comply with inconsistent regulations when shipping domestically and internationally,” Kerchner emphasized.

’Tis the Season to Be Jolly – And Careful – PRBA Reminds Holiday Flyers to Follow FAA Battery Safety Rules

’Tis the Season to Be Jolly – And Careful
PRBA Reminds Holiday Flyers to Follow FAA Battery Safety Rules

Washington (December 16, 2016) – With holiday travel approaching a crescendo over the next two weeks, PRBA –The Rechargeable Battery Association is strongly urging airline passengers to heed Federal Aviation Administration restrictions that apply to lithium batteries and battery-powered consumer products placed in checked and carry-on baggage.

“If airline passengers scrupulously observe FAA regulations while taking appropriate packaging and other precautions while traveling with lithium batteries, they can avoid problems that could undermine safe travel this holiday season,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

The latest wrinkle for travelers this holiday season: Leave your Samsung Note 7 smartphone at home. FAA banned the Note 7 from all flights to, from and within the United States, effective October 15. Passengers should also be aware that hoverboards were banned by many airlines last year.

The FAA in September updated information for airline passengers traveling with batteries, including answers to frequently asked questions and a helpful chart. Please click here

“Holiday flyers should be aware FAA allows portable electronic devices powered by lithium batteries such as cameras, cell phones, medical devices and watches aboard the aircraft, either in checked or carry-on luggage,” Kerchner said. FAA prohibits spare lithium batteries and e-cigarettes in checked baggage, including packages and presents, Kerchner added. Spare lithium batteries may be placed in carry-on luggage, he said.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, has projected 45.2 million passengers, up 3.5 percent from 2015, will fly globally on U.S. airlines during the 21-day 2016 holiday season starting December 16 and continuing until January 5.

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

Prohibited in checked and carry-on baggage

  • Samsung Note 7 smartphone
  • Damaged or recalled lithium batteries

 Permitted in checked baggage

  • Virtually every consumer electronic product powered by lithium ion or lithium metal batteries, but the devices must be protected from accidental activation, damage and short-circuit
  • Dry cell batteries like nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, and alkaline batteries

Permitted in carry-ons

  • Spare lithium ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating of no more than 100 watt hours
  • Spare lithium metal batteries, typically used in cameras and flashlights, containing no more than 2 grams of lithium content
  • No more than two spare larger-sized lithium ion batteries up to 160 watt hours but only with airline approval.
  • Virtually every consumer electronic product powered by lithium ion or lithium metal batteries, but the devices must be protected from accidental activation, damage and short-circuit

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/baggie 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 by keeping your batteries and battery-powered devices in your carry-on bag when not using them.

“Safety is PRBA’s No. 1 priority. Whether heading home for the holidays, traveling to a favorite vacation spot or flying for business, passengers should observe FAA rules and follow relevant safety procedures for batteries and battery-powered devices,” Kerchner urged.