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Interpretation Response #16-0131 ([Alabama Power] [Ms. Sharon Trippany])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Alabama Power

Individual Name: Ms. Sharon Trippany

Location State: AL Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

September 27, 2016

Ms. Sharon Trippany
Alabama Power
Environmental Compliance - Land
600 North 18th Street / 12N-0831
Birmingham, AL  35203

Reference No. 16-0131

Dear Ms. Trippany:

This letter is in response to your July 22, 2016, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to non-specification packaging exceptions for wet, lead acid batteries.  Specifically, you provide a detailed scenario and accompanying photographs of wet, lead acid batteries that are surrounded by a polyethylene battery bag, placed in a fiberboard box, and secured by straps to a pallet.  You further explain that the battery terminals are protected with tape and caps and that waffleboard material is used to close the box.  

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask for confirmation that the pallet, to include the added fiberboard box, remains a non-specification package in accordance with § 173.159(d)(1).

A1. Typically, pallets are considered “overpacks” as defined in § 171.8.  However,                   § 173.159(d)(1) permits the use of a pallet as a non-specification packaging, provided the requirements of §§ 173.159(d)(1) and 173.159(a) are both met.  In accordance with § 173.159(d)(1), the electric storage batteries must be firmly secured to skids or pallets capable of withstanding the shocks normally incident to transportation.  The height of the completed unit must not exceed 1 ½ times the width of the skid or pallet.  The unit must be capable of withstanding, without damage, a superimposed weight equal to two times the weight of the unit or, if the weight of the unit exceeds 907 kg (2,000 pounds), a superimposed weight of 1,814 kg (4,000 pounds).  Battery terminals must not be relied upon to support any part of the superimposed weight and must not short out if a conductive material is placed in direct contact with them.

Q2. You ask for confirmation that a non-specification box added to your packaging configuration would not be subject to the limitations on weight and number of batteries that are outlined in § 173.159(d)(2) through (d)(7).

A2. Section 173.159(d) provides the option for seven, separate non-specification packaging configurations listed in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(7).  Therefore, if the battery is packaged in accordance with the option provided in § 173.159(d)(1), the packaging options and corresponding weight limitations of paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(7) are not applicable.  It should be noted that the requirements of § 173.159(a)(1) through (a)(3) must be followed.

Q3. You ask for confirmation that the fiberboard box in your packaging configuration is not required to be a specification package, as it is added to further secure the batteries and terminals in accordance with § 173.159(a)(2) and (3).

A3. Section 173.159(a) prohibits wet, lead acid batteries from being packed with other materials (including other battery types) and requires protective measures to prevent dangerous evolution of heat, short circuit, and damage to terminals.  The examples of protective measures in § 173.159(a) are illustrative and do not require the use of specification packaging.  

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


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

173.159(d)(1), 173.159(a), 173.159(a)(1)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet
173.159 Batteries, wet
173.159 Batteries, wet