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Interpretation Response #07-0189 ([Dangerous Goods Advisory Council] [Mr. Frits Wybenga])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Dangerous Goods Advisory Council

Individual Name: Mr. Frits Wybenga

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 5, 2008


Mr. Frits Wybenga

Technical Director

Dangerous Goods Advisory Council

1100 H Street, NW., Suite 740

Washington, DC 20005

Ref. No. 07-0189

Dear Mr. Wybenga:

This responds to your October 11, 2007 email and follow-up telephone conversations requesting clarification of requirements for transport of nonspillable batteries under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask whether the "NONSPILLABLE" mark on the outside of packaging applies to nonspillable batteries shipped separately and also applies to batteries contained in equipment. Additionally, you ask whether an "uninterruptible power supply" (UPS) is considered "equipment" for purposes of the HMR.

As a specific condition of the general exception from the requirements of the HMR under § 173.159(d), a nonspillable battery (manufactured after September 30, 1995) and the outer packaging containing a nonspillable battery must be plainly and durably marked "NONSPILLABLE" or "NONSPILLABLE BATTERY." This requirement also applies to both a nonspillable battery contained in equipment placed in an outer packaging and a nonspillable battery packed with equipment placed in an outer packaging. The marking facilitates the easy identification of a nonspillable battery by carriers, reshippers, and compliance enforcement personnel to know whether the battery being shipped may be offered for transportation or transported under the general exception of § 173.159(d). For a nonspillable battery contained in equipment and transported without outer packaging, the marking is not required on the outside of the equipment if the nonspillable battery meets the conditions of § 173.159(d).

We understand a "UPS" to be a device which maintains a continuous supply of electric power to equipment, such as a computer or a server. A UPS is typically connected between a utility power source and the electronic equipment and provides protection against common utility source problems (e.g., power outages, power surges, etc.). There are two general UPS systems: a standby UPS and a continuous UPS. A standby UPS supplies power to electronic equipment from a utility source until a problem occurs, at which point, the UPS switches to its own power source, often a battery, to supply power to the equipment. In a continuous UPS, the electronic equipment is always supplied with power from the battery housed in the UPS, which is continuously recharged by the utility source. A battery housed in either type of UPS system does not power the UPS in the same manner as a battery powers an electric wheelchair or a laptop computer. Rather, a battery in a UPS is used to supply electric power to separate equipment. Thus, for purposes of the HMR, a UPS is essentially a battery and must be transported using a proper shipping name that most appropriately describes the battery type housed in the UPS.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if you require additional assistance.


Edward T. Mazzullo

Director, Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet