Air, Freight News

Shippers and air freight industry spell out lithium battery dangers

[ August 15, 2016   //   ]

The airfreight industry and battery manufacturers have spelled out a stark warning over the dangers of rogue Lithium battery shipments.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), and manufacturer’s bodies the US Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) and the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association (RECHARGE) have written to trade, transport and aviation ministers in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries, calling for regulations to be enforced at the point of origin including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.

They also called for cooperative enforcement between jurisdictions, to address situations where batteries are manufactured in one country but trucked to another and flown from there.

The letter also called for significant fines and prison sentences for those who break the rules.

IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating rogue producers and exporters. Flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

PRBA executive director George Kerchner added: “The actions of a minority threaten to undermine confidence in legitimate battery and product manufacturers. This a matter of deep concern for our members.”

IATA and the PRBA say they have called upon governments many times to address the danger and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders.

They also warn that without enforcement, airlines and industry regulators to may unilaterally ban all lithium batteries from aircraft – although they concede that this might encourage those law-breakers to mislabel batteries, further increasing safety and security risks.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has already prohibitedall shipments of Lithium-ion battery cargoes on passenger aircraft, on an interim basis.

Kerchner added that a ban on the shipment of lithium ion batteries could slow delivery of critical medical equipment and even jeopardize global security as military technology is often powered by lithium batteries.

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