U.S. DOT Issues Safety Advisory on Transport of Waste Lithium Batteries

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued this week a Safety Advisory Notice for the Disposal and Recycling of Lithium Batteries in Commercial Transportation due to the large number of recent incidents involving shipments of these batteries – many of which were undeclared or the shippers failed to fully comply with the U.S. hazardous materials regulations. The Agency’s stated goal with this Safety Advisory is to increase awareness about the hazards associated with waste lithium batteries and damaged/defective lithium batteries amongst generators, shippers, carriers, and the general public, and to provide information on the applicable hazardous materials regulations.

The Safety Advisory also includes an explanation on “How to Identify Damaged, Defective, or Recalled Lithium Batteries.” It provides information similar to what is found in the international dangerous goods regulations (e.g., UN Model Regulations, ICAO Technical Instructions, and IMDG Code). PHMSA did, however, include some language that is not aligned with the international dangerous goods regulations (e.g., “Batteries showing signs of … swelling, relative to the same battery in its original state.”)