Lithium Batteries at the Center of HAZMAT Regulation Petitions

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) is reviewing five industry and trade association petitions to update hazmat regulations. The five petitions deal with:

  1. New proper shipping names for lithium batteries (LBs) in cargo transport units and battery-powered equipment and vehicles. PHMSA’s Emergency Response Guidebook includes separate emergency response guidelines for lithium-ion, lithium-metal, and wet batteries, which can slow down a response.
  2. Modifying the definition of “liquid.” A redefinition would be based on the penetrometer test approved under United Nations modal regs.
  3. Increasing the weight threshold for large LBs under the Materials of Trade above 66 pounds. Larger format LBs that can power a nighttime construction site must currently be transported as fully-regulated Class 9 hazmats, requiring strict packaging, handling, and training requirements.
  4. Making food-grade vinegar with 30% or less by weight acetic acid exempt from bulk shipment Special Permits, and
  5. Lowering the minimum steel thickness threshold for reconditioning and reuse of steel drums. Hazmat packaging reconditioners asked for the change.

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