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