REMARKS – PHMSA, ICAO and lithium batteries on U.S. domestic flights.

Link to post last Wednesday (here, here and here).

Two important points:

1. Lithium batteries are light in weight, small in dimension and ubiquitous in the electronic technology that is a staple of air cargo. 

Unfortunately, two situations push against each other. The non-transportation lay person views them as distinct from “real” hazardous materials – the nasty chemicals that one would expect to require adherence to the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

But the pilots and professional hazardous materials shipping experts associate lithium batteries with powerful combustion events that have reputedly already created real damage to aircraft.

Given their combustibility, lithium batteries present a genuine danger in a setting (aviation) where shipment by air is commercially compelling.

2.  According to PHMSA and FAA rules pre-dating concern with lithium batteries, shippers and carriers have historically enjoyed a choice on domestic airline flights: Comply with the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations or opt to comply with ICAO rules. 

For some in the context of movement of lithium batteries by air, this danger forces a “re-think” of the old dual regulation framework – at least as to this sort of freight.

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS / Should shippers and carriers be allowed to choose between U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations versus ICAO Dangerous Goods rules when transporting lithium batteries by airline domestically?

To date PHMSA has in many situations allowed shippers and carriers of “hazardous materials” (U.S. legal term of art) / “dangerous goods” (international legal term of art) choice to conform either to U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations or ICAO Dangerous Goods Technical Instructions on the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air – for domestic freight moves within the United States.

January 7, 2013, Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for additional comment.

As the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration put it:  Continue reading

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS / U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations amended to “maintain alignment with international standards” of ICAO (air) and IMO (ship).

As the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration put it: 

“PHMSA is amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations to maintain alignment with international standards by incorporating various amendments, including changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations, and vessel stowage requirements.” 

January 7, 2013, Final ruleContinue reading