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Dangerous Goods Regulations: Changes and Updates

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Regulatory Updates

East Palestine, Improving Railway Safety

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, including 11 tank cars containing hazardous materials that left the tracks and ignited, resulting in a release to air, groundwater, and the surrounding community. As a result, Congress is developing legislation designed to improve rail safety. The proposed Railway Safety Act of 2023 would increase federal oversight designed to prevent future derailments. The Act contains key initiatives to advance rail safety and increases the maximum fines DOT may impose on rail carriers for violating safety regulations. The bill also:

  • requires DOT to update rail car inspection regulations,
  • requires a minimum two-person crew for certain freight trains,
  • phases out certain tank cars by May 1, 2025 (four years sooner than required under current law),
  • expands training for local first responders,
  • imposes a new fee on certain rail carriers, and
  • provides funding for research and development to improve railway safety.

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U.S. Postal Service issues Final Rule for Shipping Electronic Devices Containing Lithium Batteries and Other Hazmat – November 30, 2022

On November 30, 2022, the United States Postal Service (USPS) published a Final Rule revising its Hazmat Postal Regulations, Publication 52, covering used, damaged, or defective electronic devices containing or packed with lithium batteries. The USPS is limiting the mailing of these products to surface transportation only and are prohibited from being mailed via airfreight. These packages must be marked “Restricted Electronic Device” and "Surface Transportation Only", in addition to all other required markings and labels. This change takes effect immediately. This prohibition does not apply to new devices in original packaging or manufactured certified new/refurbished devices. USPS cites a consistent increase in incidents involving packages being offered for air transport containing used/defective lithium batteries that have not been properly packaged and labeled. The new restrictions in Pub 52 are designed to protect the safety of the public as well as USPS employees.  


IATA Significant Changes and Amendments in the 64th Edition (2023)

The lithium battery mark has been revised to remove the requirement for a telephone number to be provided on the mark. There is a transition period until December 31, 2026 during which time the mark shown in the 63rd edition of the DGR may continue to be used.

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PHMSA Request for Information (RFI) on Electronic Hazard Communication Alternatives – July 11, 2022

On July 11, 2022, the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a Request for Information (RFI) on Electronic Hazard Communication Alternatives. PHMSA is seeking input on the potential use of electronic communications as an alternative to the current, physical documentation requirements for hazard communication. PHMSA anticipates that electronic communication would improve transportation safety, efficiency, and effectiveness by providing electronic access to the same information as currently required under paper documentation.

Comments were due into the Federal Docket by October 24, 2022. To see all comments received go to: Hazardous Materials: Request for Information on Electronic Hazard Communication Alternatives; Extension of Comment Period | PHMSA (

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PHMSA Safety Advisory Notice for the Disposal and Recycling of Lithium Batteries in Commercial Transportation - May 17, 2022

On May 17, 2022, PHMSA issued a Safety Advisory Notice about the dangers related to shipping lithium batteries for recycling or disposal to increase the public’s overall awareness.  PHMSA states that it’s hazardous materials investigators routinely saw shippers and carriers improperly package and ship lithium batteries for disposal or recycling. Such dangers included the improper packaging of lithium batteries as not to prevent short circuits, mixing damaged lithium batteries with other batteries in the same packaging, and shipping pallet loads of batteries in boxes and drums with inappropriate identification of package contents.

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Lithium Battery UN 38.3 Test Summaries - January 1, 2022

PHMSA, Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 C.F.R., Parts 171-180). Final Rule, May 11, 2020.

Effective January 1, 2022, for lithium cells and batteries being offered for transport, manufacturers must make available a test summary upon request. The test summary must include a list of specific elements based on the results of the test report outlined under section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria. This requirement includes all cells and batteries manufactured after January 1, 2008. This PHMSA rule differs from international requirements in two ways. First, it covers batteries manufactured after Jan. 1, 2008, whereas UN 38.3 goes back to 2003. The other difference is the compliance date. PHMSA extended their compliance date from 2020 to January 2022.


Changes to Packing Instructions for Lithium Cells and Batteries - January 2022

IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), 63rd Edition (2022)

Starting January 2022, packing instructions 965 and 968 have been revised to remove Section II. Small lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and cells will be packaged in accordance with Section IB of Packing Instruction 965 and Packing Instruction 968, as applicable. There is a 3-month transition period to March 31, 2022, to comply with this change. During which time shippers may continue to use Section II.

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New International Safety Guidelines for Warehouse Storage of Dangerous Goods in Preparation for Sea-Transport - December 2021

In response to recent warehouse incidents involving improper storage of dangerous goods, including Tianjin, China (2015) and Beirut, Lebanon (2020), a coalition of organizations including ICHCA, IVODGA, National Cargo Bureau, and the World Shipping Council has published a guidance document in the form of a White Paper in December 2021. The document covers topics on warehouse construction, operations, fire protection, security and emergency response and has been endorsed by industry stakeholders such as port operators, insurance companies and associations. It has also been submitted to maritime regulators and the IMO for consideration to be included in international requirements.

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TSA Announces 100% Screening of International All-Cargo Flights - June 30, 2021

On June 30, 2021, TSA announced that all Importers, Exporters, Carriers, and Freight Forwarders must comply with the ICAO security requirements for 100% screening of all international all-cargo flights. Requirements include screening of cargo to identify and/or detect hidden explosives and institute supply chain security controls that prevent the introduction of concealed explosives into air cargo. This rule is not new and has been in effect for cargo on commercial passenger aircraft since 2010. As a result,  on June 14, 2021, TSA published Federal Register Notice 86, No 112 FR 31512, announcing the Secured Packing Facility (SPF) program. 

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OSHA Interpretation Regarding Lithium-Ion Batteries as Articles - June 23, 2021

OSHA Hazard Communications Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200. Letter of Interpretation dated June 23, 2021.

On June 23, 2021, OSHA published an Interpretation Letter responding to the European Portable Battery Association providing clarification that it does not consider lithium-ion batteries to be "articles" under the Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) and are therefore not exempt from the requirement for a Safety Data Sheet. OSHA has stated that it based its decision on public and government information sources showing that lithium-ion battery failure can present a fire/physical hazard and a toxic exposure hazard (e.g., lithium, cobalt) to workers during normal use and foreseeable emergencies.

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Lithium Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft, State of Charge and Alternative Packaging Provisions - March 6, 2019

PHMSA Interim Final Rule, March 6, 2019.         

This interim final rule (IFR) which becomes effective immediately amends the HMR to (1) prohibit the transport of lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft; (2) requires all lithium ion cells and batteries to be shipped at not more than a 30 % state of charge on cargo-only aircraft; and (3) limits the use of alternative provisions for small lithium cell or batteries to one package per consignment. The amendments will not restrict passengers or crew members from bringing personal items or electronic devices containing lithium cells or batteries aboard aircraft or restrict the air transport of lithium-ion cells or batteries when packed with or contained in equipment.                

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