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.