Lithium by definition is an element on the periodic table. It has the symbol of Li and the atomic number 3. It appears as a soft metal and silvery white in color. Lithium compounds have various uses. They can be used in lubricants, special glasses/ceramics, and as a drug to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder. It is also used in rechargeable batteries. Interestingly enough, those folks involved with the shipping of Lithium Batteries could probably benefit from the drug form about now. I don’t mean to belittle those who suffer from a bipolar disorder and the manic episodes that can occur under this diagnosis. It is an awful disease. However, with all of the changes happening in the regulations for shipping Lithium batteries, many shippers can begin to feel a bit manic.
Not only are the regulations changing for all modes of transport, but so are the rules of certain Carriers. Federal Express or FedEx Express recently released their changes for air shipments. These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2017 along with the new IATA regulations, and will be included with the Operator Variations for FedEx. So what are the changes?
Change #1: Lithium batteries (UN3090 and UN3480) meeting Section II requirements under IATA will NO LONGER BE ACCEPTED by FedEx Express.
What does “no longer accepted” mean? Let’s clarify some terms and information. UN3090 is for Lithium Metal Batteries and UN3480 is for Lithium Ion Batteries. Section II batteries are ones that were sort of “excepted” batteries. They were “not subject to other additional requirements”. A shipper can still send Section II batteries with FedEx Express. However, they must ship them as fully regulated under Section IA or Section IB requirements of the appropriate Packing Instruction in the air regulations.
Change #2: There are new marking and labeling requirements for UN3090 and UN3480.
These UN numbers will require IATA-compliant marks and labels. They require the new Class 9 labels and the Cargo Aircraft Only label. The new Lithium Battery Handling mark with the UN number added to it will be needed for those batteries being shipped under Section IB and II.
Change #3: Training Requirements
The air regulations have the phrase, “Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries for transport must receive adequate instruction” as part of the Packing Instruction for Lithium batteries. What FedEx Express has added is a caveat. Their new policy says that those handling UN3090 or UN3480 “will need FULL dangerous goods training”.
Change #4: More fees and Approvals
There could be more fees for shipping batteries that qualify as UN3090 and UN3480. This is because they are considered Inaccessible Dangerous Goods (IDG) by FedEx Express. IDGs have a surcharge and rates should be checked using the FedEx Service Guide. As for approvals, all Sections of UN3090 have required pre-approval to be shipped using FedEx Express. According to this publication, if a company is currently on a pre-approved list for Section II, FedEx Express will automatically place them on the Section I UN3090 pre-approved list.
There is no need for drastic medications yet. The new information is out now and does not go into effect until January 1, 2017. Shippers can adjust to the new versions of the regulations published and the new changes presented here. As always, ICC Compliance Center is here for all of your hazard communication needs. We offer the new Class 9 labels, the new Lithium Battery Mark, and a full course on shipping Lithium batteries by all modes. Also, if you are a current customer of ours, you are able to utilize our Regulatory Helpline. This service has trained Regulatory Specialist available to answer your questions and get you the information you need to create shipments of dangerous goods/hazardous materials.