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Interpretation Response #19-0085

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: EnerSys

Individual Name: Steve Spease

Location State: PA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 11, 2019

Steve Spease
Packaging Compliance Engineer
2366 Bernville Rd.
Reading, PA 19605

Reference No. 19-0085

Dear Mr. Spease:

This letter is in response to your June 21, 2019, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to lithium batteries.  You describe a lithium ion battery that weighs approximately 50 kg, with a completely enclosed casing with 1.5 mm thick steel walls. Five sides of the casing are welded together, and the sixth side is mechanically fastened. You state that the battery terminals will have insulators installed to protect from short circuit during transportation. You also note that the batteries will be oriented so that the terminals do not support the weight of other superimposed elements when packaged, and that spacers and strapping will be used to secure the batteries to a pallet/box to prevent shifting during transportation.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask for confirmation that the battery packaging described above, and illustrated in the photograph you provided, would meet the requirement in § 173.185(b)(5) to have a "strong, impact-resistant outer casing."

A1. The answer is yes. Based on the pictures and information you provided, the battery assembly appears to be fully enclosed in its metal casing.  This appears to meet the requirements of a strong, impact-resistant outer casing as specified in § 173.185(b)(5).

Q2. You ask for confirmation that the packaging would not need UN specification packaging and that securing batteries to a pallet, or in a crate/box, would meet § 173.185(b)(5) for transportation by highway or vessel.

A2. You are correct. When all other requirements of § 173.185(b) are met in addition to using a strong and impact resistant outer casing, UN specification packaging is not required.
Q3. You ask for confirmation that the answer provided in a letter of interpretation (LOI) Reference No. 05-0017 applies to your scenario, and that a highway or vessel shipment of the lithium batteries you described would not constitute a bulk packaging even if the total weight of the pallet exceeds 400 kg.

A3. The answer regarding palletized batteries in LOI Reference No. 05-0017 is specific to the packaging provisions for wet batteries in § 173.159. However, lithium batteries secured to a pallet in accordance with § 173.185(b)(5) would also be considered a single non-bulk package. The palletized batteries should be marked and labeled as a non-bulk package even if the completed package weighs more than 400 kg (882 pounds).

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


Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.185(b)(5), 173.159

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries