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New Rules May Raise Cost of Buying Gadgets Online 171

Posted by timothy
from the in-their-infinite-wisdom dept.
ericatcw writes "Buying your next laptop or smartphone online could suddenly get a lot more expensive if a little-known US Department of Transportation proposal to tighten rules around the shipment of small, Lithium-Ion battery-powered devices by air goes through, says an industry group opposing the move. The changes, designed primarily to reduce the risk from Lithium-Ion batteries, would also forbid air travelers from carrying spare alkaline or NiMH batteries in their checked-in luggage, according to the head of the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association. The proposal is under review until March 12. It can be viewed and commented upon by members of the public."
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New Rules May Raise Cost of Buying Gadgets Online

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  • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:37AM (#31044268) Homepage Journal

    Seriously. Look at it. Just look at it:
     
      http://xkcd.com/651/ [xkcd.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      And how many cases have we seen of batteries actually starting to burn by themselves?

      Known cases have been when the battery has been in the device itself, or while it was charged. Not when it was alone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Usually technology advances over time.

      But due to the paranoid delusions of many, many Americans, air travel is now less convenient than it was 20 years ago.

      I'm just waiting for a sufficiently determined biochemist to lock herself in the airplane restroom, amputate her own leg, separate it into its constituent compounds, and synthesize an explosive charge. After that, they'll presumably decide to have everyone travel pre-dissected in little vials, maybe split up onto different flights just in case.

      On second

      • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:35AM (#31044476) Homepage Journal

        But due to the paranoid delusions of many, many Americans, air travel is now less convenient than it was 20 years ago.

        It's true. Usually we drive from North Dallas to my mother's family's house an hour west of San Antonio. It's about 6 hours by car on average, since we only travel down there on busy holiday weekends. Finally with a good job I decided to "treat" us to a 45 minute plane ride. Between parking, security, waiting on the tarmac, picking up luggage and getting the rental car it actually took us 7 hours to get to our destination. I'm seriously looking at starting a PAC to get high speed light rail between Dallas and San Antonio (with a stop in Austin of course).

        • Far more efficient than light rail would be a "separate security envelope" for commuter flights.

          Requirements:

          *Plane too small to take down a big building even with full fuel tanks. Think no more than 20-30 passengers. Sorry Southwest.
          *Domestic flights only.
          *No checked baggage, only carry-on, and only 1 or 2 full-sized items or equivalent. BUT items normally checked for size like golf clubs could be carried on. No items like guns and such, sorry, ship those ahead.
          *Pre-screened, green-lighted passengers o

          • by MikeURL (890801)
            I'd let them do full biometric scans if it would get me through "security" faster. I'd allow a full background check and ongoing monitoring of all my credit, debit, and asset accounts. They can put a tap at my ISP and on my voice lines.

            What you've described is a little bit more extreme than what I've heard other propose but this idea of a "whitelist" has been around now for a while. For people who are willing to give up all privacy there should be a fast lane.
          • by jonbryce (703250)

            You can get that sort of service already from small private airfields. The problem is it is a lot more expensive than flying in a 777 because the pilot's wages are divided between fewer passengers.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            That sort of service already exists. I took a plane from Raleigh, NC to Havelock, NC (spitting distance from a military base no less) and you just walked right out on to the tarmac, onto the plane. The plane I was on seated as many as 50 although it was only about half full that day.

          • by nabsltd (1313397)

            This should cut the "arrive before departure" time down to 30 minutes or less.

            This is really only an issue with some airports (or during really busy flying days).

            I regularly arrive at BWI [bwiairport.com] about 60 minutes before my flight and end up sitting in the gate waiting area for about 15 minutes (since boarding is generally 30 minutes before the scheduled departure). Security takes less than 15 minutes from the time I walk up to the end of the line until I am completely through.

            By far the biggest time wasters in "flying" are the sitting in the plane on the ground and the inability of airlines

        • Sensible Idea (Score:2, Interesting)

          by bosef1 (208943)

          That sounds like it would make a lot of sense. Amtrak already has a route from Fort Worth to San Antonio, the "Texas Eagle", but it's dog slow. According to Amtrak, a one-way trip from FW to SA is $30, but takes 7 hrs, 45 min. According to Kayak, I can get a flight from DFW to SAT for about $155 one way, but it only takes an hour of flight time. According to Google, it would take about 4 hrs to drive one way. It seems like if you could build along the existing rights-of-way for the existing rail, you c

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Am I the only one who finds the women in XKCD cartoons so damn sexy?

      • Ha ha! Me too!

        It's comics at their best. Randall Munroe gives the audience only the most brief fragments of information and allows our minds to fill in the blanks. But overall, he's quite clear about the kinds of girls he's attracted to, so a geek guy who shares his taste can easily map onto his pictures the perfect archetypal form.

        Quite the accomplishment for a stick figure!

        -FL

        • Randall Munroe gives the audience only the most brief fragments of information and allows our minds to fill in the blanks.

          I think you are giving too much credit to the artist and not enough credit to the never-had-a-woman Slashdot experience. LOL Yes if you're locked in a submarine for 6 months, stick figures start looking sexy.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:17AM (#31045040) Homepage Journal

        Am I the only one who finds the women in XKCD cartoons so damn sexy?

        I've always liked slim women.

      • by digitig (1056110)
        Absolutely not. I love those skin-tight outfits she wears -- when she wears clothes at all!
    • by bl8n8r (649187)
      It's not about consumer safety as much as it is about putting a safety *tax* on imported goods.
      • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @07:49AM (#31044762) Homepage Journal

        Income taxes are a fairly recent invention here in the US. We used to pay for the entirety of the Federal Government's budget (including the military!) solely on import/export taxes. Chew on that for a bit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Martin Blank (154261)

          Total annual value of all imports and exports is in the $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion range. Even at a rate of 10% , it wouldn't pay for half of the current military needs.

          • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:26PM (#31047672) Journal

            Even at a rate of 10% , it wouldn't pay for half of the current military expenditures.

            There. Fixed that for you.

            • You didn't fix it. You just used an arrogant method of pointing out that your view is that the current needs are higher than you believe they should be.

              I kind of expected that someone of a libertarian (or possible strongly liberal) viewpoint would respond. The liberal viewpoint is usually pretty insular, but the libertarian viewpoint believes that there would be vast prosperity for the nation. That vast prosperity would lead to numerous overseas ventures, which would either be protected by private armies

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            I'm not sure why you got modded "insightful"; per wikipedia "total for defense spending to between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion in fiscal year 2010". Current import/export taxes by your numbers would pay for 300% of the millitary's budget, not less than 10% as you stated.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:40AM (#31044274)

    The proposed rule itself is pretty inscrutable (as usual, I suppose), but the article's examples are all over the map. Some of the examples seem like the small-scale sort of thing that would indeed cause inconvenience to ban: individual electronic devices sent air-freight from NewEgg to a consumer, or spare batteries in checked luggage. But it also mentions that existing regulations exempt "a pallet containing thousands of lithium batteries" from hazardous-material reporting and packaging requirements... and in that case the change doesn't seem too unreasonable to me, because maybe a pallet with thousands of batteries really should be subjected to the packaging and reporting requirements?

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      So if you and a bunch of other travelers want to take spare batteries, get a REALLY large suitcase and stuff it with batteries. You just might reach the mass necessary to get an exemption. You may have to buy batteries specifically to meet this minimum weight. :)

    • The proposed rule itself is pretty inscrutable (as usual, I suppose),

      .

      But don't worry - we can rely on all those helpful and well-educated airport ground staff to correctly and consistently interpret the law and offer balanced and sensible advice to travelers.

      We can also re-assure the check-in person that we haven't got batteries at the same time we're assuring them that our luggage has never left our side (even in the trunk of the bus, or when we left it behind the desk at the hotel while we went for lunch); avoiding asking whether the rules on flammable liquids applies

      • by honkycat (249849)

        Those questions aren't (or weren't, I haven't been asked in a while) to help find dangerous items, they are to ensure that the airlines/law enforcement can hold you responsible for the contents of your luggage should they find such an item. If you try to claim that someone must have slipped it in when you weren't looking, they have you on record as affirming that there was no opportunity for that. At least that's the idea, given that they seem to have abandoned the practice in the last couple years, I gat

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          At least that's the idea, given that they seem to have abandoned the practice in the last couple years, I gather it was pretty ineffective.

          Or maybe its because they're busy replacing checkin staff with "express" check-in consoles...

    • by bwcbwc (601780)
      A lot of the article's examples are just plain false. Did a text search of the regulation for the word batteries and every mention of batteries is coupled with the word "Lithium" or else is a grammatical or referential revision that in no way alters the regulation. SO no impact to NiCad or Alkaline batteries.

      Some interesting stuff on fuel-cells, though.
  • by cl191 (831857) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:40AM (#31044276)
    "would also forbid air travelers from carrying spare alkaline or NiMH batteries in their checked-in luggage" If it's so "dangerous" to be in the checked bags, then why is it safe to be on carry-on bags?
    • One assumes that it'd be noticed quicker, and dealt with.

      • And how many people/stewardesses haven't seen/remember http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcd34tt8YPU and will try to smother the fire and just lead to bigger problems?

        I think an automated cargo sensor + suppression system would be far safer than relying on humans to properly execute something. It just wouldn't be cheaper.

        For the people who won't watch the FAA video they advise using a water extinguisher or other extinguisher and dousing the batteries with water/liquid to cool them.
    • by mrjb (547783) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:25AM (#31044430)

      "would also forbid air travelers from carrying spare alkaline or NiMH batteries in their checked-in luggage" If it's so "dangerous" to be in the checked bags, then why is it safe to be on carry-on bags?

      You're asking the wrong question. The right question is, "are spare alkaline or NiMH batteries in checked-in luggage are a safety risk?" The question can be answered objectively, rather than theoretically, because people have been stashing their batteries in checked-in luggage for decades. Right, batteries in checked-in luggage are an accident waiting to happen. We've been waiting, {and waiting,}* ... but nothing happened.

      • Visit www.growingbettersoftware.com to download your free copy of the book

        I tried... and was greeted with

        This Account Has Been Suspended Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

        You might want to fix your sig 'til you get that taken care of.

      • by bwcbwc (601780)
        The regulation says that batteries have to either be stored in an area of the cargo hold that is covered by fire-suppression equipment or they have to be in an area accessible by the flight crew (i.e., the cabin), so that the crew can act to suppress fires. Do a text search on "batteries" in the regulation to see. It's not that the batteries are any safer in one location vs. another, it's that the batteries have to be in an area where it's possible to put out a potential fire.

        Also, there is no mention in
    • by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:53AM (#31045200) Homepage Journal

      Flight baggage are written with the convenience of the rules enforcer. Not the passenger.

      If you think that through, it makes sense to do it that way.

      The laptop battery installed in a laptop is properly stored. The laptop battery kicking around in somebody's suitcase is not necessarily so. Most accidents are a compound of events people thought unlikely: it is unlikely that a laptop battery will explode due to redundant safety features (unless it is a cheap knock-off, which are sometimes produced in the same Chinese factories as the real thing). It is unlikely that something stored properly could cause a problem. We count on that redundancy in case one of the assumptions fails. Don't forget that the ValuJet crash way back in the 90s was due to shipping the same oxygen generators that sit over every passenger's seat. In that storage setup, a faulty detonation results in the mask dropping in front of the passenger. In a crate of oxygen generators down in the old, it was fatal to everyone.

      Here is a cautionary tale about storing batteries properly. Just recently I took three dead button batteries and put them in my pants pockets rather than get up and put them in the trash. I forgot I had them there and the next day I was sitting at the table and was surprised by an explosion in my pocket. It was small explosion by normal standards, but there is no such thing as a small explosion when it happens in your pants. (Gee that sounds like an aphorism.) I felt the electrolyte leaking onto my leg and immediately pulled my pants down. Good thing this wasn't at work. Now I knew I shouldn't have put those batteries in my pocket, but you could walk around with button batteries in your pocket every day of your life and never have something like that happen. I counted on it not happening in the fifteen minutes I expected to have them there. Everybody does things like that they know they shouldn't do. Now multiply that by thousands of times, and put tens of thousands of lives at risk.

      Anyhow, the point is that we could train TSA guys to be able determine whether a laptop battery was safely stored. It wouldn't be hard. But that's one of hundreds, maybe thousands of cases. What you *really* need to do is to hire people who've gone through the equivalent of an associate's degree program on engineering and safety, put them through stringent application tests and continually retrain and restest them. Then you'd get much better security and much less hassle.

      But guess what? We as a people would rather put up with the hassle than pay for safety AND convenience. That's not an entirely irrational point of view either. You've got to draw the line somewhere, and no matter where you draw that line, somebody will be inconvenienced unnecessarily. Take model rocket enthusiasts. They *should* in an ideal world, be able to take most of their stuff aboard a plane if it is properly stowed. But a ruleset that encompassed all such cases would be so large that the people enforcing them couldn't know them by heart. They'd be sifting through the rulebook on every passenger.

      Naturally, the rules *could* be made better. But it's not easy to come up with rules that (a) inconvenience nobody unnecessarily and (b) can be implemented everywhere with affordable personnel and (c) don't cause traffic jams at security gates. Oh, yes and (d) which keep people safe. It takes years. It's been almost a decade since 9/11, and even if rules hadn't been side tracked by security theater, you wouldn't expect the rules to be perfect.

      • by xmundt (415364)

        Greetings and Salutations.
        that was a stupid thing to do, indeed, but, it is an apples and oranges comparison with the batteries used in laptops. Those button batteries have NO protections against being shorted out, and, even a "dead" one has enough power left to provide an interesting moment - as you discovered. In the years I have been dealing with laptop batteries, I have yet to see one that does not have the contacts recessed into the body, such that the only w

        • by hey! (33014)

          Of course it was a stupid thing to do. (Duh). But that's the kind of decision making you get when you have people who are in a hurry and thinking about something else.

          And of course laptop batteries have multiple redundant safety measures. Except in the rare cases where they don't.

          But what about batteries that look like laptop batteries but are not?

          Is it reasonable to ask the luggage inspectors to look at a battery and see that it is a laptop battery and not some other kind of multi-cell battery pack? That

      • How many people have died in aircraft fires caused by batteries?

        • by hey! (33014)

          How is a pallet of Li-ion battery different from a pallet of oxygen generators?

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:46AM (#31044300) Homepage
    Ban humans on flights. The even present threat of spontaneous combustion threatens us all.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:51AM (#31044314)

    . . . I find them much more annoying than exploding Lithium Ion batteries . . .

  • pain profit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jesus_Corpse (190811)

    This would result in all the gadgets I use in flight (Nintendo DS, iPod, Laptop) to be stocked away, making airtravel an even bigger pain in the ass.
    How many incidents with batteries occur anyway? The figures suggest that a small percentage of all batteries are potentially dangerous, and I've never seen figures of how many people die of these batteries. Small fires can be put out by the cabin crew, and it certainly sounds it's going to cost a lot more than it will generate in terms of safety

    • by Fred_A (10934)

      How many incidents with batteries occur anyway?

      It seems obvious that planes are falling out of the sky daily because of the innumerable detonating batteries but it's all hushed up by people in dark suits. Presumably so that the public won't panic.

      Thankfully I've converted all my gadgets to using a steam-engine attached to a little turbine. Carrying a few bottle of highly flammable alcohol is much safer than those unpredictable batteries.

    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Not sure about alkaline and NiMHs, but the cabin crew is not going to be able to put out a lithium battery that's on fire. They self oxidize. And what would you think they could do? Pour water over it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Not sure about alkaline and NiMHs, but the cabin crew is not going to be able to put out a lithium battery that's on fire. They self oxidize. And what would you think they could do? Pour water over it?

        From TSA: Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft.

        Primary lithium cells are non-rechargeable cells (what devices use them?); most cells carried on board would be lithium ion. Given that a fire from one could be extinguished it seems that since it would be more easily discovered early in the cabin v

        • by Ironsides (739422)
          Interesting. Lithium non-rechargeable sound like the ones I see in the grocery stores that are made as alkaline substitutes. The batteries I work with are Lithium-Ion rechargeable. I'd like to know how they expect to put out the rechargeable ones. So far as I know, they can't be put out. I would really like to know what they think could be used to extinguish them.
          • Interesting. Lithium non-rechargeable sound like the ones I see in the grocery stores that are made as alkaline substitutes. The batteries I work with are Lithium-Ion rechargeable. I'd like to know how they expect to put out the rechargeable ones. So far as I know, they can't be put out. I would really like to know what they think could be used to extinguish them.

            According to what I could find they recommend Halon extinguishers are effective, followed by cooling of the battery.

            Relevant links I found are:

            http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/safo/all_safos/media/2009/SAFO09013.pdf [faa.gov]

            http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/batteries.shtm [tsa.gov]

            • by Ironsides (739422)
              Ok, now I'm beginning to think they're nuts.

              Utilize a Halon, Halon replacement or water extinguisher to extinguish the fire and prevent its spread to additional flammable materials.

              Ok, this makes some sense. But as to the battery itself:

              After extinguishing the fire, douse the device with water or other non-alcoholic liquids to cool the device and prevent additional battery cells from reaching thermal runaway.

              ... Ok, so the battery is on fire and they want you to douse it with water. A LITHIUM battery... Cripes, I'm thinking these guys don't know what they are talking about. By the way, here's the doc I deal with at work [everyspec.com]

              Hm.. This page has some interesting things on it. [findarticles.com]

              *Water may be used to extinguish packaging fires if batteries have not ruptured; water is not an effective extinguishing agent for a battery fire.

              * For small fires involving the battery [extinguishing] media such as Lith-X or copper powder may be used, but should be applied with a long handled tool. Do not use CO2 or Halon directly on a battery fire as the exposed surface of the contained lithium may react with these materials.

    • by bwcbwc (601780)
      Read the regulation. It does nothing of the kind. The point of not allowing batteries in CHECKED baggage is so that the "small fires" are in an area accessible to the cabin crew. There is no ban on the devices in carry-on. And if the airline just installs fire-suppression equipment (halon?) in the cargo hold, there is no need to ban the batteries in checked-luggage either. The airlines can recover their costs by raising the checked-bag fee by a buck or two.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:32AM (#31044456)

    Forbid forbid forbid, that's all I hear coming out of the "land of the free" lately. I went to the US 2 months ago, and I have never heard "you can't" as often as I did when I was there.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:48AM (#31044526)
    "Sec. 173.220 (d) Lithium batteries. Except as provided in Sec. 172.102, Special Provision A101 of this subchapter, vehicles, engines and machinery powered by lithium metal batteries that are transported with these batteries installed are forbidden aboard passenger-carrying aircraft."

    Laptops, cell phones, iPods, etc. are all "machinery powered by lithium metal batteries". And it doesn't say anything about shipping or checked luggage, it says they shall be forbidden aboard passenger-carrying aircraft!!!

    One could argue that they are not "machinery" in the conventional sense, but this is far too vague. In my experience, when the language of a law allows it to be enforced in some way, eventually it will be.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BoogieChile (517082)
      Or some bright spark could, I don't know, go and look up this "Special Provision A101" of which they speak?

      Tell you what, I'll save you the trouble, shall I?

      A101 A primary lithium battery or cell packed with or contained in equipment is forbidden for transport aboard a passenger carrying aircraft unless the equipment and the battery conform to the following provisions and the package contains no more than the number of lithium batteries or cells necessary to power the intended piece of equipment:
      (
      • Those are primary cells, not rechargables. The line is just before the one you list

        A100 Primary (non-rechargeable) lithium batteries and cells are forbidden for transport aboard passenger carrying aircraft. Secondary (rechargeable) lithium batteries and cells are authorized aboard passenger carrying aircraft in packages that do not exceed a gross weight of 5 kg.

        The interesting bit is that it's the packages that can't weigh more than 5kg. What's a package? Could be the battery shell, could be your laptop

        • The word "packages" is very likely defined somewhere in that section of the law. It's not ambiguous if you find that definition.
        • by KiahZero (610862)

          This is all the law as it was, not the new regulations being proposed.

          Additionally, as you point out, this is only about primary cells, not lithium-ion rechargables. As such, your cite is completely irrelevant to a discussion of laptops.

          The relevant rule-making makes clear that passengers can continue to carry laptops with them:

          17. In Sec. 175.10, paragraph (a)(17) is revised to read as
          follows:

          Sec. 175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air
          operators.

          (a) * * *

          • NO, the section I quoted (from the link given) did not mention whether the batteries in question were "primary" or non-rechargeable. Look it up. The only section that did was the exceptions.
    • by KiahZero (610862)

      In the rule-making actually at issue (PHMSA-2009-0095) [regulations.gov], rather than the one incorrectly linked by this page and others, the following paragraph is added to 49 C.F.R Section175.10:

      Sec. 175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air
      operators.

      (a) * * *
      (17) Except as provided in Sec. 173.21 of this subchapter,
      portable electronic devices (for example, watches, calculating
      machines, cameras, cellular phones, laptop and notebook computers,
      camcorde

      • Thank you for that clarification. It helps to know what one is actually arguing about. Sometimes any need for arguing goes away.

        Although I still object to using UN standards. The UN is a political, not scientific body, and in my (admittedly limited) experience, they don't know which end is up.
    • Laptops, cell phones, iPods, etc. are all "machinery powered by lithium metal batteries". And it doesn't say anything about shipping or checked luggage, it says they shall be forbidden aboard passenger-carrying aircraft!!!

      Just explain to them that everyone's digital watch is also powered by a lithium battery. They are sure to see the error of their ways and hand back your iPod and other devices... wait, why are they taking my watch now as well?

  • Because you never know when the next flight might be threatened by lithium-powered underwear

  • As a resident of Hawaii this proposal causes me great concern. The majority of the people here buy electronics items online that come by air shipping. The price is generally 10-20% cheaper online due to the high cost of living out here. It sounds like a real boon to the local merchants but it sucks for the consumer looking for the best prices. I know we're small but I hope they think of us before they enact this ban.
  • While he acknowledged the department's figure of 40 air transport-related incidents since 1991 involving lithium batteries and devices powered by lithium batteries, Kerchner said it is a small number in the context of the 3.3 billion lithium batteries transported in 2008 alone.

    This is a pressing matter. 2.105263158 "incidents" per year is obviously unacceptable.

    ...the battery inside an already-padded box for a new notebook PC might need to be packaged in an additional fiberboard box along with extra shipping documents, he said.

    Obviously this is a ploy set up by HP's packaging engineers [theregister.co.uk].

    You're now limited to a maximum of two batteries with between 8 and 25 grams of lithium in them. They ... must be carried now in plastic bags... If you carry on three such batteries, security will take one of them away.

    So forget bringing multiple 9-cell batteries on a plane. FedEx'ing the whole thing sounds better and better every day now, since TSA can sieze anything [upi.com] they want, including your data and now your expensive extended batteries.

  • So when buying stuff with batteries in, check the cheapest and slowest shipping option. If it comes by USPS or UPS Ground, it won't be a problem.

  • What do batteries look like on security scans? Can the scanners not penetrate them? If the scanners have trouble with them, then I submit that this is a veiled attempt at stopping terrorists from hiding bombs in or behind lithium-ion batteries.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      What do batteries look like on security scans? Can the scanners not penetrate them? If the scanners have trouble with them, then I submit that this is a veiled attempt at stopping terrorists from hiding bombs in or behind lithium-ion batteries.

      One of the cheapest materials known to blind security scanners is lead, and somehow, I seriously doubt a $200 netbook that weighs in at a "hefty" 20 ounces has that much damn lead in it.

  • (d) Lithium batteries. Except as provided in Sec. 172.102, Special
    Provision A101 of this subchapter, vehicles, engines and machinery
    powered by lithium metal batteries that are transported with these
    batteries installed are forbidden aboard passenger-carrying aircraft. *

    Are electronic devices part of "vehicles, engines, and machinery?" I hope not. Else you can't use your ipod. 172.102 isn't in the linked article so I don't know what the special provisions are.

    • by argent (18001)

      You can find 172.102 at 172.102 Special provisions [setonresourcecenter.com].

      It reads, in part:

      130 For other than a dry battery specifically covered by another entry in the 172.101 Table, "Batteries, dry" are not subject to the requirements of this subchapter when they are securely packaged and offered for transportation in a manner that prevents the dangerous evolution of heat (for example, by the effective insulation of exposed terminals) and protects against short circuits.

  • by madhippy (525384)
    I sleep hooked up to one of them darn fangled cpap machines ... planning a trip soon and bought a 222Wh lithium-ion battery to allow me to go camping etc.

    found out I can't use the bloody thing now!
  • by Diddlbiker (1022703) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:55AM (#31045206)
    This was discussed ad nauseum at photography forums last year. Key is to read the actual proposal and not depend on the warmongerings of a journalist trying to attract more traffic to his site:
    Cartridges packed with equipment to be packed in intermediate packagings together with the equipment they are capable of powering.
    The fuel cell cartridges and the equipment must be packaged with cushioning material or dividers or inner packaging so that the fuel cell cartridges are protected against damage that may be caused by the shifting or placement of the equipment and the cartridges within the outer packaging.


    All the rule is basically doing is requiring that batteries are transported in such a way that they cannot short out. Either by putting them in the device they are made for (so your gameboy is safe) or by putting them in a special container (the big Li-Ion batteries for SLR's come like that in the box anyway).

    After the Great Battery Scare last year with all those laptops combusting spontaneously their was little choice but to start with at least some regulation regarding the combustable nature of these batteries. The requirements are minimal and reasonable and quite frankly I have yet to see anything shipped commercially that doesn't meet those standards.
    • Googling the quoted text got one hit, Hazardous Materials: Revision to Requirements for the Transportation of Batteries and Battery-Powered Devices, etc.; Correction [vlex.com].

      I don't speak bureaucrat well enough to be sure, but this seems to be a year old rule, one that is already in force.

      • by KiahZero (610862)

        As someone fluent in Regulatese, I can tell you that you're entirely correct. The correct rule-making is at PHMSA-2009-0095 [regulations.gov]. I'm wondering if I should write the editor to see if a correction can be made, but I'm thinking that Slashdot apathy will prevent too many people from submitting comments to the wrong docket entry.

        • The regulation link in the main article is a regulation that already took effect in January. The new regulation under discussion is the one referenced by parent. And that regulation ONLY discusses Li-ion batteries. Nothing about NiMH or Alkaline except to contrast their relative safety with the fire risks of lithium.

          Don't fall for scare-mongering industry whores that masquerade as journalists.

          "Sec. 171.12 North American shipments.

          (a) * * *
          (6) Lith
          • by KiahZero (610862)

            I'd actually say it's more likely ignorance than malice; I bet the author of the original article searched Regulations.gov for "lithium batteries" and linked to the first docket they found from PHMSA.

            One of the synergy bonuses you get with a proficiency in Regulatese is the knowledge that Regulations.gov is terribly organized, so I went to PHMSA's website and pulled up their NPRM section.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BeanThere (28381)

      After the Great Battery Scare last year with all those laptops combusting spontaneously their was little choice but to start with at least some regulation regarding the combustable nature of these batteries.

      The "Great Battery Scare", in caps!? Lol ...oh yes, I remember how everyone I know was so terrified of batteries all last year. Exploding all over the place as they were. I was having so many nightmares about batteries. Communities were crying out all over the country to their leaders, do something, do something about these darn batteries terrifying us all. YMBFJ.

      Seriously, this desperate need to paranoidly cry for 'regulation' in the face of just about any completely statistically insignificant 'threat' sh

  • As anyone who can read could tell you, the rule-making linked in the summary is for a final rule. The final rule isn't open for comment anymore - it's already published, already effective, and would require a new notice-and-comment cycle in order to change.

    The rulemaking PHMSA is proposing is at PHMSA-2009-0095 [regulations.gov]. PHMSA is not required to listen to any comments posted on the link above, because that docket is closed. Therefore, if you want your comments to be read, you should use the above link.

    Because the an

  • So, the NSA finally classified Sony as terrorists?

  • ...I will only fly completely naked.

    Let‘s see how long they can stand that, before they overturn the laws. :P

    But I can raise the bar too, by employing this technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9yLKnC5bho [youtube.com]

  • When laptop batteries began exploding left and right if you looked at them wrong, I gave my father a call.

    He worked for many years at the Lithium Corporation of America, where they mined and refined Lithium ore for all sorts of purposes (shoe rubber, axle grease, pool chlorine, etc, etc..).

    I asked him about the exploding batteries, expecting a tirade on how bad manufacturing was to blame, rather than lithium.

    Instead, he surprised me with a rant about the old-old lithium batteries - small things about half t

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:48PM (#31050164) Homepage

    I don't know why people worry about this kind of thing being made law. Why am I not worried? Think about it.

    Who are the people who use planes all the time? Business people, government workers.

    And who are the people who need to use their laptops on all those plane trips? Business people, government workers.

    And who are the people in real control of all of the laws in the country? That's right, the wealthy business people, the lawmaking government workers.

    In 2010+, No law or regulation is ever going to happen that makes air travel require you to not have a working computer. It is just not realistic given the players involved.

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

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