[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 70 (Wednesday, April 11, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21714-21716]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8550]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 172, 173, and 175

[Docket No. PHMSA-2009-0095 (HM-224F)]
RIN 2137-AE44


Hazardous Materials: Transportation of Lithium Batteries

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 
DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for additional comment.

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SUMMARY: In this document, PHMSA is seeking comment on the impact of 
changes to the requirements for the air transport of lithium cells and 
batteries that have been adopted into the 2013-2014 International Civil 
Aviation Organization Technical Instructions on the Transport of 
Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions). PHMSA is 
considering whether to harmonize with these requirements and is 
publishing this notice to allow interested persons an opportunity to 
supplement comments to our January 11, 2010, Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (NPRM).

DATES: Comments Due Date: May 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by identification of the docket 
number (PHMSA-2009-0095) by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Operations, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Routing 
Symbol M-30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: To Docket Operations, Room W12-140 on the 
ground floor of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number for this notice at the beginning of the comment. To avoid 
duplication, please use only one of these four methods. All comments 
received will be posted without change to the Federal Docket Management 
System (FDMS), including any personal information.
    Docket: For access to the dockets to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or DOT's Docket 
Operations Office (see ADDRESSES).
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any 
written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by 
the name of the individual submitting the document (or signing the 
document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor 
union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in 
the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; 
Pages 19477-78).
    Asking for Confidential Treatment: If you want PHMSA to give your 
comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form and take 
the following steps in accordance with 49 CFR 105.30:
    (1) Mark ``confidential'' on each page of the original document you 
would like to keep confidential.
    (2) Send us, along with the original document, a second copy of the 
original document with the confidential information deleted.
    (3) Explain why the information you are submitting is confidential 
(for example, it is exempt from mandatory public disclosure under the 
Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 or it is information referred 
to in 18 U.S.C. 1905).
    PHMSA will decide whether or not to treat your information as 
confidential. We will notify you, in writing, of a decision to grant or 
deny confidentiality at least five days before the information is 
publicly disclosed, and give you an opportunity to respond.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin A. Leary, Standards and 
Rulemaking Division, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration, telephone (202) 366-8553, or Michael Locke, Program 
Development Division, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration, telephone (202) 366-1074.

Background

    On January 11, 2010 (75 FR 1302), PHMSA, in coordination with the 
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), published a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (NPRM) to address the air transportation risks posed by 
lithium cells and batteries. Some of the proposals in the NPRM were 
intended to harmonize provisions in the Hazardous Materials Regulations 
(HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180) with provisions in the ICAO Technical 
Instructions; other proposals in the NPRM were intended to address 
safety concerns arising from research findings from the FAA Technical 
Center suggesting that current aircraft systems and procedures may not 
be sufficient to combat a fire involving lithium batteries (from either 
an external cargo fire or internal source from manufacturing 
defects).\1\ The FAA Technical Center issued an additional report in 
2010 that supplements the previous studies. All of these reports are 
available in the public docket of this rulemaking. Many of the 
commenters to the NPRM urged PHMSA to adopt lithium battery transport 
safety standards identical to those in the 2011-2012 edition of the 
ICAO Technical Instructions.
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    \1\ Flammability Assessment of Bulk-Packed, Non rechargeable 
Lithium Primary Batteries in Transport Category Aircraft; June 2004 
(DOT/FAA/AR-04/26); and Flammability Assessment of Bulk-Packed, 
Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Cells in Transport Category Aircraft; April 
2006 (DOT/FAA/AR-06/38).
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    Since PHMSA published the NPRM, the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel has 
met several times and devoted considerable discussion to the provisions 
applicable to the air transport of lithium cells and batteries. As a 
result, there have been many changes in the ICAO standards applicable 
to the air transport of lithium cells and batteries. Given the 
increased efficiency and clarity in having a uniform global standard, 
PHMSA considers harmonization with international standards when there 
is no adverse impact to safety. Therefore, consistent with 49 U.S.C. 
5120, PHMSA is now considering harmonizing the HMR with lithium battery 
provisions recently adopted by ICAO and which will become effective on 
January 1, 2013.

[[Page 21715]]

    To ensure full consideration of harmonization with the HMR, PHMSA 
seeks comments from the public on the impact of these changes should 
PHMSA adopt them. To the extent possible, we request commenters include 
specific data with verifiable references to support their statements. A 
full report of these changes is available through the ICAO at the 
following URL: http://www.icao.int/safety/DangerousGoods/Pages/DGP.aspx.

Current Standards and Summary of Changes

    The ICAO Technical Instructions assign six separate packing 
instructions (PIs) to describe the requirements applicable to the 
various types and configurations of lithium batteries:
    1. Lithium ion batteries (PI 965).
    2. Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment (PI 966).
    3. Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment (PI 967).
    4. Lithium metal batteries (PI 968).
    5. Lithium metal batteries packed with equipment (PI 969).
    6. Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment (PI 970).
    Within each of these packing instructions, there are two sections. 
Section I applies to lithium batteries that are subject to all 
applicable regulatory requirements including UN packaging, marking and 
labeling, shipping papers, a notice to the pilot in command and 
requirements for the air carrier to inspect each package for 
compliance. Section II outlines specific requirements that, if met, 
allow small lithium cells and batteries to be shipped excepted from 
many of the provisions associated with hazardous material and, these 
shipments may be handled as general cargo.
    The changes to these exceptions in the ICAO Technical Instructions 
for lithium batteries not packed with, or contained in, equipment (PI 
965 and PI 968) effectively split Section I of these packing 
instructions into:
     ``Section IA,'' which covers lithium cells and batteries 
currently subject to all regulatory requirements; and
     ``Section IB,'' which covers lithium cells and batteries 
formerly transported as general cargo.
    In effect, packages containing more than 8 lithium cells or 2 
lithium batteries, which were previously excepted from most of the 
requirements of the ICAO Technical Instructions, would be subject to 
additional requirements including package weight limits (10 kg for 
lithium ion cells and batteries and 2.5 kg for lithium metal cells and 
batteries) and a requirement to display a Class 9 label and the lithium 
battery handling label \2\ (Section IB). In addition, the shipper must 
provide the carrier with the following information:
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    \2\ The lithium battery handling label (figure 5-31 in the ICAO 
Technical Instructions) consists of text and symbols that 
communicate the presence of lithium ion or lithium metal cells or 
batteries as appropriate, an indication that a flammability hazard 
exists if the package is damaged, special procedures to be taken in 
the event the package is damaged and a telephone number for 
additional information.
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     The name and address of the shipper and consignee;
     The appropriate proper shipping name and UN number; and
     The number of packages and the gross mass of each package.
    The air carrier must:
     Provide the information on this document to the pilot and 
retain this information for at least 3 months; and
     Inspect each package for compliance with the ICAO 
Technical Instructions.

The full text of the changes recently adopted by the ICAO Dangerous 
Goods Panel is available in the rulemaking docket and illustrated in 
the following charts:

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                                         Lithium ion cells or    Lithium ion cells more   Lithium ion batteries
          Section II limits            batteries not more than    than 2.7 Wh but not      more than 2.7 Wh but
                                                2.7 Wh              more than 20 Wh        not more than 100Wh
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Maximum number of cells/batteries per  No limit...............  8 cells................  2 batteries.
 package.
Maximum net mass per package.........  2.5 kg.................  n/a....................  n/a
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                                        Lithium metal cells or    Lithium metal cells    Lithium metal batteries
                                       batteries with not more   with a lithium content   with a lithium content
          Section II limits               than 0.3 g lithium    more than 0.3 g but not  more than 0.3 g but not
                                               content               more than 1 g            more than 2 g
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Maximum number of cells/batteries per  No limit...............  8 cells................  2 batteries.
 package.
Maximum net mass per package.........  2.5 kg.................  n/a....................  n/a
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------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Cell/battery size     Package gross
        Section IB limits                limit             mass limit
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                                  ...................  .................
Lithium Ion Cells...............  20 Wh..............              10 kg
Lithium Ion Batteries...........  100 Wh.............              10 kg
Lithium Metal Cells.............  1 g................             2.5 kg
Lithium Metal Batteries.........  2 g................             2.5 kg
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Request for Information

    To adequately consider harmonization with ICAO standards, PHMSA 
seeks qualitative and quantitative information from the public on the 
following questions. In your comments please refer to the number of the 
specific question(s) to which you are responding. We do not expect 
every commenter to be able to answer every question. Please respond to 
those questions you feel able to answer.
    The following questions generally apply to lithium metal cells and 
batteries up to 1 gram per lithium metal cell and 2 grams per lithium 
metal battery or 20 Wh per lithium ion cell and 100 Wh per lithium ion 
battery. Further, please focus responses on data for cells shipped 
alone (that is, not packed with, or contained in, equipment), 
designated UN3090 (Lithium Metal Batteries) or UN3480 (Lithium Ion 
Batteries), and which would be covered by PI965 or PI968. To the extent 
possible, we request commenters include specific data with

[[Page 21716]]

verifiable references to support their statements.
    1. Beginning in 2013, how many lithium cells, batteries, and 
packages are anticipated to be subject to the additional requirements 
of the proposed Section IB of ICAO Packing Instructions 965 and 968, 
or, in other words, how many shipments of lithium cells, batteries, and 
packages were previously excepted from full hazardous materials 
packaging and labeling requirements, but would now be subject to 
additional requirements? These packages would typically contain more 
than 2 batteries or 8 cells, but weigh less than 10 kg. Also, if 
quantifiable, please specify projected figures for shipments that would 
fall under Section IA and Section II.
    2. What impacts (if any) would arise from the allowance to use non-
UN Specification packaging for cells and batteries to be shipped under 
the proposed Section IB of ICAO Packing Instructions 965 and 968?
    3. What impacts (if any) would result if PHMSA chooses not to 
harmonize with 2013-2014 ICAO Technical Instructions applicable to 
lithium batteries?
    4. Will harmonization with the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical 
Instructions result in any modal impacts or diversions, i.e., will 
shippers be less likely to ship by air, in favor of maritime, truck, or 
rail transport of these materials? If a modal shift will occur, please 
quantify the impact of this shift if possible (costs increase or 
decrease, shipment time differences, and other considerations).
    5. What is the projected burden (time and/or cost) for compliance 
with the information collection activities and disclosures outlined in 
this notice? If PHMSA were to harmonize with the 2013-2014 ICAO 
Technical Instructions, are there other Paperwork Reduction Act related 
activities associated with implementation that PHMSA should consider?
    6. If PHMSA were to harmonize the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical 
Instructions in a final rule, are there ways in which PHMSA could 
reduce regulatory burden or cost of implementation, for example, 
delayed effective date?
    7. Please provide any other relevant information that PHMSA should 
consider before harmonizing with ICAO's standards for lithium cells and 
batteries.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2012.
R. Ryan Posten,
Deputy Associate Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-8550 Filed 4-10-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-60-P