Many facilities are beginning to transition their energy storage from lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion batteries due to their reliability and efficiency. However, lithium-ion batteries tend to be included on EPCRA Tier II reports far less frequently than their counterparts.
This article will provide insight on determining whether you need to report your batteries, and if you do, how they should be included on your next Tier II report.
Question 1: Do I Need To Include My Lithium-Ion Batteries in My Tier II Report?
Some lithium-ion batteries may qualify under EPCRA Section 311(e)'s "consumer product exemption", which excludes from reporting "any substance to the extent it is used for personal, family, or household purposes, or is present in the same form and concentration as a product packaged for distribution and use for the general public."
When determining whether any of the lithium-ion batteries you have at a facility are exempt from Tier II reporting, ask yourself:
- Are the lithium-ion batteries in the same packaging and concentrations as lithium-ion batteries sold for use by the general public (example)?
If the answer is yes, regardless of whether or not it is intended to be distributed for use by the general public or used for the same purpose as a consumer product, then those batteries are exempt.
All other lithium-ion batteries at your facility should be included on your Tier II report. For example:
DON'T NEED TO REPORT: Batteries that the maintenance department uses to power their cordless drills, because these are sold for use by the general public (i.e., the same batteries available for purchase at a hardware store).
REPORT: Batteries used to power forklifts, because these are not sold for use by the general public.
DON'T NEED TO REPORT: Solar batteries of a size (e.g., ~3 kWh) that consumers would use in their homes.
REPORT: Solar batteries of a size (e.g., ~100kWh) that typically have only industrial applications.
As you can see, there can be a gray area in what constitutes an item that is "packaged for distribution and use for the general public." The burden for making this determination is on the facility, and the facility should be able to justify why their lithium-ion batteries are exempt.
Question 2: Do I Exceed Reporting Thresholds?
Step 1: Determine Your Reporting Threshold
Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries do NOT contain any Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS). Therefore, the reporting threshold for lithium-ion batteries (at the federal level) is the hazardous chemical threshold of 10,000 pounds.
While many states have adopted the 10,000 pound reporting threshold for hazardous chemicals, a handful of states have lower thresholds, so it is imperative to determine the appropriate requirements for your state. For example, Louisiana has a hazardous chemical reporting threshold of just 500 pounds - meaning, in some instances, having just one lithium-ion forklift battery may be enough to require reporting.
In some cases, specific cities or towns have even lower reporting thresholds than their state - for example, the town of Gilbert, Arizona has stricter reporting requirements than the state.
Step 2: Perform Your Threshold Determination
Now that you have determined that you need to report and you know what your reporting threshold is, you must quantify the amount of lithium-ion batteries at your facility and compare it to the threshold (i.e., make a 'threshold determination').
Lithium-ion batteries do not contain any EHSs, so you have two options when performing your threshold determination:
Option 1: Quantify as Mixture (EASIER)
Calculate the total quantity of lithium-ion batteries present throughout the facility at any one time.
Report the batteries as a mixture (e.g., "Lithium-ion Batteries")
Option 2: Quantify by Component (HARDER)
Calculate the total quantity of each lithium-ion battery component (e.g., lithium cathode, copper, lead, etc.) present in all mixtures (even in non-lithium-ion-batteries) and in all other quantities of the hazardous chemical.
Report the components individually (e.g., "Copper"), and aggregate the quantities, hazards, and locations across substances into one chemical entry.
In nearly every situation, it is more appropriate to perform a threshold determination using Option 1 -
- It is significantly easier to perform the threshold determination (see examples below),
- Information presented in this manner is more useful to first responders, and
- SDSs are typically published for the batteries as a whole and not the individual components of the batteries.
Note that if your facility has previously fulfilled your EPCRA Section 311 (SDS reporting) obligations by reporting the lithium-ion batteries as a mixture, then they must report in the same manner on their Tier II report. The opposite is also true - if you previously reported as components on your Section 311 reporting, then your facility must do the same on your Tier II report.
To illustrate the difference in complexity between these two approaches, consider the following examples for the same facility.
Example - Option 1 - Quantifying as a Mixture, Indiana
|Battery Type||Quantity at Facility|
Forklift (Small) - 375 lb. batteries
|10 batteries||10 x 375 lb. = 3,750 lb.|
Forklift (Large) - 750 lb. batteries
|6 batteries||6 x 750 lb. = 4,500 lb.|
Process Equipment - 2,500 lb. batteries
|2 batteries||2 x 2,500 lb. = 5,000 lb.|
|Indiana Hazardous Chemical Threshold||10,000 lb.|
|13,250 lb. > 10,000 lb. threshold
Lithium-ion batteries need to be reported at this facility.
Example - Option 2 - Quantifying by Battery Component, Copper, Indiana
|Total Weight||% Copper||Copper Total|
|Forklift (Small) - 10 @ 375 lb. batteries||3,750 lb.||15%||3,750 lb. * 15% = 563 lb.|
|Forklift (Large) - 6 @ 750 lb. batteries||4,500 lb.||15%||4,500 lb. * 15% = 675 lb.|
|Process Equipment - 2 @ 2,500 lb. batteries||5,000 lb.||15%||5,000 lb. * 15% = 750 lb.|
|Copper Shot, Raw Material Storage Area - 25 bags @ 200 lb./bag||5,000 lb.||100%||5,000 lb. * 100% = 5,000 lb.|
|Carbon Steel Blanks, Raw Material Storage Area - 1 pallet @ 1,500 lb./pallet||1,500 lb.||1%||1,500 lb. * 1% = 15 lb.|
|6" dia. 5' Copper Tube, East Yard - 60 tubes @ 70 lb./tube||4,200 lb||100%||4,200 lb. * 100% = 4,200 lb.|
|Indiana Hazardous Chemical Threshold||10,000 lb.|
|11,338 lb. > 10,000 lb. threshold
Copper would need to be reported at the facility.
Note: The exercise in Example 2 would need to be repeated for each constituent in the batteries (lithium-cathode, lead, etc.).
Assuming you are performing the threshold determination using Option 1, you will need the following items:
- The number of lithium-ion batteries at your facility,
- The weight (or estimated weight) of each battery at your facility, and
- The hazardous chemical reporting threshold for the area that your facility is located in
As shown in Example 1, all you will need to do is add up the total weights of the lithium-ion batteries and compare it to the hazardous chemical reporting threshold.
Question 3: How Do I Report?
Now that you have your quantity of reportable lithium-ion batteries and have confirmed you exceed applicable thresholds, the last step is adding it to your Tier II report. This section discusses the individual sections that need to be completed in order to add the batteries to your report.
Note: Where examples are provided, the data and scenario from Example 1 (in Question 2) are used.
Though the interface will vary depending on the state you are filing in, the following will be true when reporting your lithium-ion batteries:
- "Mixture" should be checked (See Question 2, Step 2 for further explanation)
- CAS Number should be blank or "N/A" (CAS Number is not required for mixtures)
- "EHS" should be marked "No"
- Physical State will be "Solid"
- Because the mixture does not contain any EHSs, the "Mixture Components" section is not required to be filled in, though it is recommended to complete this section as a best practice.
- Components can be found in Section 3 of your SDS. When given a range for a component, such as "5-10%", we recommend reporting the higher end of the range (e.g., 10%).
Example 1 input into Tier2Submit software:
Most lithium-ion batteries will have similar hazards, but it is very important to reference the SDS from the manufacturer specific to the batteries that are at your facility. That way, first responders and emergency planners will be working with the most accurate information.
Typical hazards as they are reported on a Tier II report may be:
- Acute toxicity (any route of exposure)
- Skin corrosion or irritation
- Serious eye damage or eye irritation
- Respiratory or skin sensitization
- Specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure)
Hazards can typically be found in Section 2 of Section 15 of your SDS.
Lithium-ion battery storage locations will consistently be reported with the following properties:
Container Type: Battery
Pressure: Ambient Pressure
Temperature: Ambient Temperature
Example 1 input into Tier2Submit software:
I have different SDSs for different types of lithium-ion batteries at my facility. Should I consider them different mixtures, each with their own reporting threshold?
Generally no. While it is ultimately up to the facility to use professional judgment to determine whether the amounts of two mixtures (e.g., two batteries from two separate manufacturers) should be aggregated or counted separately, most lithium-ion batteries present the same physical or health hazards and should be aggregated for threshold determinations. (Reference EPA Guidance)
How do I determine the weight of my lithium-ion batteries?
First, determine the manufacturer and model number of your battery. Many manufacturers have charts on their websites that display the specifications (including weight) for their various battery models (example). If that is unavailable, contact the manufacturer directly.