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Interpretation Response #11-0150 ([Holland & Knight LLP] [Mr. Jonathan Epstein])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Holland & Knight LLP

Individual Name: Mr. Jonathan Epstein

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 12, 2011




Mr. Jonathan Epstein

Holland & Knight LLP

2099 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.

Suite 100

Washington, DC 20006

Ref. No.: 11-0150

Dear Mr. Epstein:

This responds to your June 20, 2011 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to battery-powered equipment and lithium batteries.

In your letter, you state that your client, Toro Company (Toro), has designed a new product that is a commercial grade self-propelled walk behind mower designed to be used on golf courses. You state that the mower (a.k.a., eFlex) is powered by a 58 volt lithium-ion battery pack that is semi-permanently affixed to the eFlex chassis and would not normally be removed except for maintenance. You also state that the battery pack is affixed securely in a battery holder and protected in a manner to prevent short circuit or damage and housed within a glass filled nylon protective enclosure that is vented to allow dissipation of heat. You further state that the lithium batteries have been tested to meet UN test criteria as prescribed in the HMR under § 173.185. Finally, you provide an attachment of the specifications of the eFlex mower with your letter. Your questions are paraphrased and answered below.

Q1: You ask whether the eFlex mower is properly classified as "UN3171, Battery-powered equipment" instead of "UN3091, Lithium batteries, contained in equipment?"

A1: In accordance with § 173.22, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify and describe a hazardous material. This Office does not perform that function. However, when reviewing the specifications of the eFlex mower you provided, the answer is yes. In addition, for "UN3171, Battery-powered equipment," Special Provision 134 in § 172.202 states that "this entry only applies to vehicles, machinery and equipment powered by wet batteries, sodium batteries, or lithium batteries that are transported with these batteries installed. Examples of such items are electrically-powered cars, lawn mowers, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids." UN3171 is a proper classification for the eFlex mower as it is a battery-powered piece of mechanized equipment that would normally be powered by an internal combustion engine.

Q2: You ask whether the eFlex mower containing an installed lithium ion battery pack can be shipped by ground in the U.S. in accordance with the exceptions provided in § 173.220?

A2: The answer is yes. Provided a shipment of eFlex mowers comply with the requirements in § 173.220, a shipper would be able to utilize the appropriate exceptions (such as § 173.220(h)(1)).

Q3: You ask whether the eFlex mower can be shipped by vessel as "UN3171, Battery-powered equipment" under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code?

A3: The answer is yes. As specified in § 171.25(b)(4), any person who offers for transportation or transports a hazardous material consigned under "UN3166" and "UN3171" may be prepared in accordance with the IMDG Code or this subchapter.

I trust this satisfies your inquiry. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster

Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch

Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.185, 173.22, 172.202 SP 134, 173.220, 171.25

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.25 Additional requirements for the use of the IMDG Code
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries
173.22 Shipper's responsibility
173.220 Internal combustion engines, vehicles, machinery containing internal combustion engines, battery-powered equipment or machinery, fuel cell-powered equipment or machinery