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Interpretation Response #04-0141 ([Alston & Bird LLP] [Ms. Laura Lewis Owens])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Alston & Bird LLP

Individual Name: Ms. Laura Lewis Owens

Location State: GA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Jun 4, 2004


Ms. Laura Lewis Owens                 Reference No. 04-0141
Alston & Bird LLP
One Atlantic Center
1201 West Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309-3424

Dear Ms. Owens:

This is in response to your letter of May 25, 2004 requesting confirmation that discharged lithium ion batteries as described in your letter are not subject to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) when transported by highway in the United States. In your letter you state that the subject batteries contain one cell and that the equivalent lithium content of the cell is calculated to be 0.26 grams.

You indicate that these lithium ion batteries are part of a voluntary recall that Verizon Wireless is in the process of implementing in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The batteries, which are counterfeit, are susceptible to overcharging and may overheat during or soon after charging. Under the proposed recall program, Verizon Wireless would request that a customer cease charging the battery and leave the phone on to allow the phone to discharge for three days prior to return shipment. A customer would place the discharged battery in a strong fiberboard box, provided by Verizon Wireless. You state that the packaging material and configuration complies with the requirements in 49 CFR 173.1 85(b)(4) which requires that lithium batteries be packaged in manner to prevent short circuits. The customer would return the battery to Verizon Wireless via ground shipment by U.S. mail. You further state that you are working with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to ensure that transportation is limited to ground shipments and that such shipments will comply with any additional requirements of the USPS.

Under 49 CFR 173.185(b), a lithium ion cell that contains 1.5 grams or less equivalent lithium content and a lithium ion battery that contains 8 grams or less equivalent lithium content are not subject to the requirements of HMR if they comply with the provisions in 49 CFR 173.185(b)(3), (4) and (5). In addition, 49 CFR 173.21(c) states that electrical devices which are likely to create sparks or generate a dangerous quantity of heat are forbidden for transportation unless packaged in a manner which precludes such an occurrence. As the entity causing these batteries to be transported, it is the responsibility of Verizon Wireless to ensure compliance with the applicable provisions of the HMR. The procedures which you have described, if effectively communicated to the persons returning these batteries, appear adequate to ensure that these batteries are eligible for the
exceptions provided in 49 CFR 173.185(b) and are not forbidden for transportation under the provisions of 49 CFR 173.21(c).


I trust this satisfies your inquiry. If we can be of any further assistance, please contact us.



Edward T. Mazzullo
Director, Office of Hazardous
  Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries