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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #10-0129 ([Bringham McCuchen LLP] [Mr. Robert N. Steinwurtzel])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Bringham McCuchen LLP

Individual Name: Mr. Robert N. Steinwurtzel

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

July 30, 2010




Mr. Robert N. Steinwurtzel

Bingham McCutchen LLP

2020 K St., NW

Washington, DC 20006-1806

Ref. No. 10-0129

Dear Mr. Steinwurtzel:

This responds to your June 14, 2010 letter regarding the transportation requirements for wet (electric storage) batteries under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). You ask for clarification of the requirements for exception from regulation as Class 8 corrosive materials for wet batteries under § 173.159(e) of the HMR. Specifically, you ask for clarification of procedures that satisfy the requirement of § 173.159(e)(2) that batteries must be loaded or braced to prevent damage and short circuits in transit.

According to your letter, the Battery Council International (BCI) has published procedures on how to package used wet batteries on pallets (see Used Battery Stack and Wrap Flyer available at The procedures include:

(1) Pallet specifications (e.g., a maximum of three layers of batteries per pallet);

(2) Instruction to place cardboard (waffleboard) between the pallet and layers of batteries to prevent damage, short circuits, and sliding;

(3) Instruction to orient battery terminals in such a manner to prevent short circuits; and

(4) Instruction to stretchwrap the batteries to the pallet to secure the batteries and prevent them from falling off the pallet.

Additionally, you indicate an industry practice of loading a motor vehicle by placing pallets tightly against each other front to back and using standard load locks and/or straps at the front and rear of the load to secure the pallets from shifting forward or rearward on the motor vehicle. Depending on the configuration of the pallets, there may be void space between the pallets and the walls of the motor vehicle trailer. You request clarification that the combination of the BCI packaging procedures and industry loading practice satisfies the requirement of § 173.159(e)(2).

It is the opinion of this Office that the method of loading the wet batteries on a motor vehicle described in your letter satisfies the requirement of § 173.159(e)(2) so long as no damage or short circuit occurs in transit. However, this requirement is a performance standard, so that if the batteries are capable of shifting to the extent of causing damage or short circuit, this method of loading would not comply with § 173.159(e)(2).

Note that motor carriers may be subject to additional requirements to protect against shifting and falling of cargo under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in 49 CFR Part 393, Subpart I.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact this office.


Charles E. Betts

Chief, Standards Development

Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet