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Interpretation Response #14-0246 ([Wiley Rein LLP] [Mr. George Kerchner])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Wiley Rein LLP

Individual Name: Mr. George Kerchner

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 7, 2015

Mr. George A. Kerchner
Senior Regulatory Analyst
Wiley Rein LLP
1776 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Reference No. 14-0246

Dear Mr. Kerchner:

This is in response to your December 22, 2014 letter and December 23, 2014 e-mail requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) regarding packaging provisions that prescribe short circuit protection for lithium cells and batteries transported for disposal or recycling. Further, you ask whether damaged or defective lithium cells and batteries contained in equipment in conformance with requirements prescribed in § 173.185(f) are authorized for transport in commerce under the HMR. In your letter, you state that recent revisions to § 173.185 may not align with the 18th revised edition of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UN Model Regulations) and Amendment 37-14 of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code). We have paraphrased your questions and answered them in the order you provided.

Q1. Please confirm that the type of short circuit protection, if any, required under § 173.185(d) for packages of lithium cells and batteries intended for disposal or recycling would include, but is not limited to, the short circuit protection requirements for packages prescribed in Packing Instruction P909 of the IMDG Code and the UN Model Regulations.

A1. Your understanding is correct. Section 173.185(d) provides exceptions for packages of lithium cells and batteries intended for disposal or recycling. However, the conditions in § 173.185(b), such as short circuit protection, continue to apply. Further, the detailed short circuit protection methods prescribed in Packing Instruction P909 of the IMDG Code and the UN Model Regulations satisfy the short circuit protection requirements of § 173.185(b) of the HMR.

The HMR require lithium cells or batteries, including lithium cells or batteries packed with, or contained in, equipment, to be packaged in a manner to prevent short circuits, movement within the outer package and accidental activation of the equipment. Lithium cells or batteries must be placed in non-metallic inner packagings that completely enclose the cells or batteries, and separate the cells or batteries from contact with equipment, other devices, or conductive materials (e.g., metal) in the packaging (§ 173.185(b)).

Packing Instruction P909 contains similar requirements and describes methods to prevent short circuits and a dangerous evolution of heat including: individual protection of the battery terminals, inner packaging to prevent contact between cells and batteries, batteries with recessed terminals or the use of non-conductive, non-combustible cushioning material to fill empty space between cells and batteries in the packaging.

Q2. Please confirm that damaged or defective lithium cells and batteries contained in equipment in conformance with requirements prescribed in § 173.185(f) are authorized for transport in commerce under the HMR.

A2. The answer is yes, provided the applicable conditions prescribed in § 173.185(f)(1) - (f)(3) are met.

I hope this satisfies your request. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Duane A. Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.185(f), 173.185, 173.185(d), 173.185(b), 173.185(f)(1) - (f)(3)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries