By Rick Foote, Senior Environmental Compliance Advisor
All batteries are subject to requirements in the DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations.
This is because they have two types of hazards:
(1) The chemicals or other materials contained in the battery, and
(2) The electrical potential of the battery.
All batteries must be packaged for transportation in the following manner:
Lithium Batteries-The terminals must either be taped or placed in a plastic bag to ensure no contact between battery terminals
Wet Batteries (electrolyte/alkaline)-These types of batteries must be packed alone and not with any other materials. The terminals must be protected to ensure they do not come in contact with other batteries. The exposed terminals can be protected with non-conductive caps, or non-conductive tape.
Sodium Batteries-These types of batteries must be secured to prevent shifting while in a vehicle. They also must have adequate ventilation and separation between batteries to ensure they do not overheat. Additionally, if there is other freight on the vehicle the batteries must be stored no less than 1.6 feet away.
Dry batteries (alkaline, nickel cadmium (NiCad), nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and silver-zinc batteries) - These types of batteries are not covered under the Hazardous Materials regulations as long as they follow these requirements:
- Packaged as to prevent the buildup of heat.
- This can be accomplished by one of the following methods:
- Taping the terminals and ensuring that the container is compatible with the batteries.
- Placing the batteries in a plastic bag
- Separating the batteries individually
By Melissa Iozzo, Technical Specialist
The U.S Department of Transportation, Pipeline and hazardous materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a new interpretation on November 30th, 2009, pertaining to new regulations surrounding the shipment, storage, and collection of dry cell batteries.
Previous letters regarding this topic were in response to the public’s comments, and confusion regarding the shipment of all batteries for road transport. It was originally released that all batteries needed to be packaged for shipment in a way to prevent shorting, or touching of terminal ends to prevent heat generation, sparking, fire, or risk of explosion (i.e. taping terminal ends, or bagging batteries separately).
The PHMSA had originally stated that dry cell alkaline batteries were exempt from hazardous materials regulations (HMR) because they would not pose enough risk to produce a short when packaged together.
The new November 30th interpretation states that all dry cell batteries (those include alkaline, nickel metal hydride, mercury oxide, silver oxide, etc) under 9v are not likely to generate heat, or cause a spark during transport, and therefore when shipped under the specified shipping name; Batteries, Dry, Sealed, are also exempt from HMR. In other words, these smaller dry batteries are not subject to special provision 130 – and precautions do not need to be taken in order to prevent touching of terminals during transport.
It is important to remember that this does not apply to wet batteries, waste damaged batteries, or batteries that have been reconditioned. Equally important is to note again, that this only applies to batteries that are 9v and under; for example, most of your NiCad power tool batteries are over this size. For further information the letter or interpretation can be found here.
Always keep safety in mind before shipping any of these materials – and if you aren’t sure, check first.