How to Ship Lead Acid Batteries by Ground [49 CFR 173.159]
If you ship lead acid batteries, you must comply with certain provisions of 49 CFR 172 and 49 CFR 173. Lead acid batteries are considered hazardous materials in transportation because the proper shipping name of "Batteries, wet, filled with acid" appears on the hazardous materials table (49 CFR 172.101) and this type of battery meets the definition of the DOT's hazard class 8 (corrosive). According to column 8 of the hazardous materials table, "Batteries, wet, filled with acid" must be packaged in accordance with 49 CFR 173.159.
49 CFR 173.159 requires that the batteries be packaged in such a way as to prevent a dangerous evolution of heat, short circuits, and damage to the battery terminals. When lead acid batteries are packed without other materials, 49 CFR 173.159 gives you a choice; you can use either specification and non-specification packaging.
Authorized specification packagings include: wooden boxes (4C1, 4C2, 4D, and 4F), fiberboard boxes (4G), plywood drums (1D), fiber drums (1G), plastic drums (1H2), plastic jerricans (3H2), or plastic boxes (4H2).
Authorized non-specification packagings include:
- Firmly secured to skids or pallets capable of withstanding the shocks normally incident to transportation, provided that the height of the completed unit does not exceed 1.5 times the width of the skid/pallet; the unit can withstand without damage a superimposed weight equal to 2 times the weight of the unit (or 4,000 lb if the weight of the unit exceeds 2,000 lb); and the battery terminals must not be relied upon to support any part of the superimposed weight and must not short out if contacted with a conductive material.
- Batteries weighing 500 lb of more consisting of carrier's equipment may be shipped by rail when mounted on suitable skids, provided they are not offered for interchange service.
- One to three batteries (not over 25 lb each) may be packed in strong outer boxes with a maximum gross weight of 75 lb.
- Not more than four batteries (not over 15 lb each) may be packaged in strong outer fiberboard or wooden boxes with a maximum gross weight of 65 lb.
- Not more than five batteries (not over 10 lb each) may be packaged in strong outer fiberboard or wooden boxes with a maximum gross weight of 65 lb.
- Single batteries not exceeding 75 lb each may be packed in 5-sided slip covers or completely closed fiberboard boxes, provided the slip covers or boxes meet the requirements specified within 49 CFR 173.159(d)(6).
- Single batteries exceeding 75 lb each may be packed in completely closed fiberboard boxes, provided the boxes meet the requirements specified in 49 CFR 173.159(d)(7).
When packaged in accordance with 49 CFR 173.159 and transported by highway or rail, lead acid batteries are not subject to any other DOT requirements if all of the following conditions are met:
- There are no other hazardous materials in the same vehicle.
- The batteries are loaded or braced to prevent damage and short circuits.
- Any other material loaded in the vehicle must be blocked, braced, or otherwise secured to prevent contact with or damage to the batteries.
- The vehicle carries material offered only by the battery shipper.
To help ensure that your hazardous materials are shipped properly, attend Environmental Resource Center's DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course or the DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course - Webcast.