PHMSA extends deadline for final rule on lithium battery transportation

Washington – The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has extended its compliance date for a final rule regarding the transportation of lithium cells and batteries.

The deadline extension – from Feb. 6 to Aug. 7 – applies to modes of transportation other than aircraft. PHMSA decided to grant the six-month delay after stakeholders informed the agency that the initial mandatory compliance date did not provide sufficient time to implement the new requirements.

The Department of Transportation issued its final rule on Aug. 6, 2014, as part of an effort to improve safety during the shipment of lithium cells and batteries. The products can overheat and ignite if they are handled incorrectly, which can result in fires that are difficult to extinguish, according to groups such as the Air Line Pilots Association, International.

The final rule revised hazard communication and packaging methods for the cells and batteries. Shippers also are required to develop and implement training programs for affected workers.

PHMSA said the Feb. 6 compliance date remained in effect for aircraft. The agency consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration to determine that the initial date “is appropriate and important for aviation safety,” according to a notice published in the Feb. 20 Federal Register.