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Interpretation Response #21-0058

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: KBI

Individual Name: Paul D. Johnson

Location State: CA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 19, 2021

Mr. Paul D. Johnson
Executive Director of Environmental Affairs
125 E Commercial St. A
Anaheim, CA 92801

Reference No. 21-0058

Dear Mr. Johnson:

This letter is in response to your May 24, 2021, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to packing lithium batteries in oil. Specifically, you request that we remove Letter of Interpretation (LOI) 15-0100 from the PHMSA website because you believe the guidance provided in that letter may encourage shippers to offer packages into transportation that do not conform to the HMR's lithium battery packaging requirements./p>

As stated in LOI 15-0100, placing lithium cells or batteries into a container filled with oil is not—on its own—sufficient to meet the lithium battery packaging requirements in § 173.185 when shipping for either purposes of disposal or recycling, or when shipping damaged, defective, or recalled batteries. In accordance with § 173.185(b)(3)(i) and (f)(1), each lithium cell and battery must be placed in a non-metallic inner packaging. Placing a cell or battery into a container filled with oil without first placing it into a non-metallic inner packaging is not sufficient to meet the packaging requirements of the HMR.

It is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure lithium cells and batteries are packaged in such a way to prevent damage from shifting during transportation. Packaging those lithium cells and batteries in oil may assist in preventing damage from shifting; however, consideration must be made on the potential for short circuiting as well as compliance with additional packaging requirements. Placement of lithium batteries in oil is not prohibited by the HMR. We emphasize that as stated in LOI 15-0100, in accordance with § 173.185(b)(3)(i) and (f)(1), lithium batteries must be placed in a non-metallic inner packaging that completely encloses the cells or batteries.

Placing a lithium cell or battery into a container filled with oil unprotected by an inner packaging does not meet this requirement.

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, 173.185(b)(3)(i) and (f)(1)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries