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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 #13-0057 ([Ameresco] [Mr. Johnny Rogers])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Ameresco

Individual Name: Mr. Johnny Rogers

Location State: LA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 28, 2013



Mr. Johnny Rogers
125 Johnny Dufrene Drive
Suite 102
Matthews, LA   70375

Ref. No. 13-0057

Dear Mr. Rogers:

This responds to your March 5, 2013, request for clarification on shipping non-spillable batteries under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  Specifically, you request clarification on transporting, by highway, shipments containing over 1,000 pounds of non-spillable batteries under the exceptions provided in § 173.159a.     

According to your letter, you transport shipments of batteries packaged inside fiberglass shipping boxes with the batteries blocked inside these boxes so they do not move.  You indicate these batteries meet all the requirements of § 173.159a.  You note that when transporting greater than 1,000 pounds of these non-spillable batteries by highway, these shipments are often frustrated or rejected.  Specifically, trucking companies insist these shipments must have a bill of lading, and that the vehicle must be placarded.  Furthermore, dock operators are refusing these shipments because they are labeled as hazardous materials but the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the batteries does not provide a UN number.  You also note that MSDS for non-spillable batteries are inconsistent with some listing a UN number and others noting simply § 173.159a.    

You indicate that a member of our Hazardous Materials Information Center (HMIC) staff recently provided you guidance on this issue stating that a shipment of non-spillable batteries meeting all of requirements in § 173.159a is excepted from the HMR.  The guidance provided to you by the HMIC is correct.  If all the requirements of § 173.159a are met, non-spillable batteries are not subject to any other requirements of the HMR (including shipping papers, marking, labeling, placarding, etc.), except for incident reporting requirements in §§ 171.15 and 171.16 .  It should be noted that batteries meeting the requirements of § 173.159a are not required to be labeled and that permissively labeling, as you described above, may frustrate your shipment. 

The United States Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues the regulations in 49 CFR Part 383 that require a driver who transports hazardous material shipments to obtain a hazmat endorsement on a commercial driver's license (CDL), however, the requirement for a hazmat endorsement applies only to shipments for which a placard is required under the HMR.  Since § 173.159a provides an exception from placarding, a shipment of non-spillable batteries prepared and transported in accordance with § 173.159a would not require a hazardous materials endorsed CDL driver. 

Finally, under the HMR, MSDS are not required to be included with a shipment of hazardous materials.  The requirements for MSDSs are promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and can be found in 29 CFR §1910.1200. 

I hope this answers your inquiry.  If you need additional assistance, please call this office at (202) 366-8553.


Robert Benedict
Chief, Regulations Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet