Lithium ION Battery Phrase Confusion with HM-224I

Laurel and Hardy the comedy duo from the 1930’s coined the phrase, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” Sadly, I believe this is the situation DOT created with HM-224I which is an interim final rule published in March.  When this new rule is taken into account along with the general frustration many shippers face when shipping lithium batteries, it is easy to see how the mess was made.

Basically, here’s what happened.  The 49 CFR can be used to make air shipments along with going by ground and vessel.  In the “old” version of the regulations, you were allowed to put lithium ion batteries on passenger planes as long as the net weight of the batteries was below 5 kg.  Well, DOT has finally admitted it is NOT a good idea to put lithium ion batteries on passenger aircraft.  They also wanted to be in closer alignment with the IATA which restricted ion batteries to cargo planes just a few years ago.  This is where HM-224I comes into play.

One of the biggest changes is the addition of a phrase to section 173.185 for small powered or excepted batteries.  It is paragraph (c)(1)(iii) that is causing the most trouble.  Keep in mind nothing changed with the existing phrases in this paragraph. It is simply a matter of a new one being added.  Also, this paragraph only applies to cells and batteries by themselves.  It is not for those packed with or contained in equipment.  The new phrase is for use with Lithium ION powered cells and batteries only. 

Take a look at the chart below to see a side by side comparison of the “old” and the “new” phrases. I have highlighted some key words in each phrase to better see what’s changed.

Old Version New Version
Primary Lithium Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft Primary Lithium Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft
Lithium Metal Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft Lithium Metal Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft
  NEW PHRASE:  Lithium ION Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Passenger Aircraft

Now, all of these phrases could be disregarded and not used if people would apply the Cargo Aircraft Only label to their packages.  That label would cover all aspects of all types of excepted cells and batteries that fit into paragraph (c)(1)(iii).

To further complicate things is paragraph (c)(1)(iv).  This little gem allows you to up the metal content and watt-hour ratings for cell and battery shipments going only by highway and rail.  What is required on these packages is the phrase, “Lithium Batteries – Forbidden for Transport Aboard Aircraft and Vessel” is used.  Again, this phrase has been here all along and has not changed with the integration of HM-224I.

If you find yourself needing any of these marks, the class 9 battery label, packaging for your batteries, or training for how to ship them, then give us a call today.  We are here to help and have people standing by to assist you.  If you haven’t purchased the new version of the 49 CFR parts 100 – 185, we can help you with that too.  It incorporates the changes brought in by HM-224I.

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