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Interpretation Response #14-0146 ([Det-Tronics] [Mr. Lee Zwiefelhofer])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Det-Tronics

Individual Name: Mr. Lee Zwiefelhofer

Location State: MN Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 26, 2015

Mr. Lee R. Zwiefelhofer
Senior Logistics/HazMat Specialist
6901 West 110th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55438

Reference No. 14-0146

Dear Mr. Zwiefelhofer:

This is in response to your recent e-mail requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to "UN 2800, Batteries, wet, non-spillable electric storage, 8, PG III" installed in devices. Specifically, you ask several questions concerning how these batteries may be transported under the HMR, including exceptions, and if any of these authorized packagings requires the use of the "NON-SPILLABLE" or "NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY" marking prescribed in § 173.159a. We have answered your questions and paraphrased them in the order you provided.

Q1. If non-spillable batteries are installed in devices, can the devices containing these batteries be described and shipped as non-spillable batteries?

A1. The HMR require a proper shipping name selected for a hazardous material to correctly describe the hazard(s) associated with the material (see § 171.2(e)). The HMR do not restrict the choice of a proper shipping name except in these instances: 1) when that name is preceded by a plus sign, 2) when the material is a mixture or solution meeting the definition of one or more hazard classes that are not identified on the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT; § 172.101), or 3) when a material meets the definition of hazard class, hazard zone, subsidiary hazard, or packing group other than that shown in association with the proper shipping name listed in the HMT for the material. Please note that while the proper shipping name "Batteries, wet, non-spillable" may accurately describe the hazardous material contained in your device, provided it contains no other hazardous material, it is the opinion of this Office that proper shipping names that refer to the equipment the battery is contained in may be more appropriate, such as: "Battery-powered vehicle" or "Battery-powered equipment," "Engines, internal combustion," or "Vehicle, ‘flammable gas’ or 'flammable liquid' powered," or "Dangerous Goods in Machinery" or "Dangerous Goods in Apparatus." For additional information, see §§ 172.101(b)(1), 172.101(c)(10)(F)(iii), and 172.101(c)(12)(i).

Q2. Does the device in which the non-spillable battery is installed have to be marked as "NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY" if the battery is not visible?

A2. Under the HMR, only the non-spillable battery itself, its outer packaging, and overpack, if applicable, containing the battery must be plainly and durably marked with the words "NON-SPILLABLE" or "NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY." See §§ 171.24(d)(1)(i)(B), 173.159a(c)(2), 173.220(c) and (f)(1), and 175.10(a)(15)(v)(B) for additional restrictions and/or exceptions.

Q3. Can devices that contain non-spillable batteries be packaged together with other non-hazardous materials in the same outer packaging as long as the outer packaging is marked with the "NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY" marking? Please clarify how to interpret the reference in § 173.159a(d) to § 173.159a(c). It is my understanding that § 173.159a(c) states batteries must meet the requirements prescribed in § 173.159(a), and that "Electric Storage batteries, containing electrolyte acid or alkaline corrosive battery fluid (wet batteries)" may not be packaged with other materials except as provided in § 173.159(g) and (h) and in §§ 173.220 and 173.222.

A3. Your understanding is correct. Section 173.159(a) permits non-spillable batteries, dry batteries, and battery charger devices to be placed in the same package with electrolyte, acid, or alkaline corrosive battery fluid; filling kits in conformance with § 173.159(g) and (h); with engines, vehicles, or mechanical equipment in conformance with § 173.220; and in equipment, machinery, or apparatus in conformance with § 173.222. Both non-spillable batteries and their outer packagings that comply with § 173.159a(c) must be marked "NON-SPILLABLE" or "NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY."

Non-spillable batteries that comply with § 173.159a(d) are excepted from all other requirements under the HMR when offered for transportation and transported in conformance with the following:

  • § 173.159a(c), and
  • At a temperature of 55 °C (131 °F) the batteries:
    • Do not contain any unabsorbed free-flowing liquid,
    • Are designed so that electrolyte will not flow from a ruptured or cracked case, and
    • When transported by aircraft --
      • When contained in a battery powered device, equipment or vehicle must be prepared and packaged for transport in a manner to prevent unintentional activation in conformace with § 173.159(b)(2).
      • Must be transported as cargo and may not be carried onboard an aircraft by passengers or crewmembers in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, or on their person unless specifically excepted under § 175.10.

Q4. If non-spillable batteries contained in devices can be excepted from most of the requirements in the HMR, like some exceptions that currently exist in the HMR for non-spillable batteries, can you please provide these HMR sections and paragraph numbers?

A4. The subchapter exceptions that currently exist in the HMR for non-spillable batteries are prescribed in the following sections: §§ 171.24(d)(1)(i); 172.102, Special Provision 136; 173.159(i); 173.159a(d); 175.10(a)(15) and (a)(16); 175.9(a)(5)(ii); and 173.220(c). For your information, PHMSA issued a final Rule on January 7, 2013, (78 FR 65453) that amended section § 173.159a(d) to clarify that non-spillable batteries cannot be carried aboard an aircraft by passengers or crewmembers in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, or on their person unless specifically excepted under § 175.10.

Q5. Has the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued any letters of clarification that address non-spillable batteries installed in equipment? If so, please provide these reference numbers.

A5. PHMSA has issued the following clarification letters concerning non-spillable batteries installed in equipment: Reference Nos. 99-0258, 01-0129, 01-0267, 01-0309, 02-0261, 02-0297, 03-0253, 07-0189, 11-0113, 12-0101, 13-0162, 13-0182, and 14-0005. If you wish to conduct additional searches of PHMSA’s clarification letter database, please enter a keyword "non-spillable" or a reference number in the search window at this website: ""

I hope this satisfies your request.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.159a, 171.2(e), 172.101, 172.101(b)(1), 172.101(c)(10)(F)(iii), 172.101(c)(12)(i), 171.24(d)(1)(i)(B), 173.159a(c)(2), 173.220(c), (f)(1), and 175.10(a)(15)(v)(B), 173.159a(d), 173.159a(c), 173.159a(c), 173.159(a), 173.159(g) and (h), 173.220, 173.222, 173.159(b)(2), 175.10, 171.24(d)(1)(i); 172.102, 173.159(i); 175.10(a)(15) and (a)(16); 175.9(a)(5)(ii); and 173.220(c).

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.2 General requirements
171.24 Additional requirements for the use of the ICAO Technical Instructions
172.101 Purpose and use of hazardous materials table
172.102 Special provisions
173.159 Batteries, wet