Coalition Urges DOT to Take Action Against Some Battery Shippers

June 24, 2011
Trade group says DOT should focus on just those shippers who are violating air safety regulations, not the whole industry

A coalition of trade associations representing manufacturers of batteries, consumer electronics and medical devices as well as air freight companies and retailers have urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to act against shippers of lithium and lithium ion rechargeable batteries that fail to comply with applicable air transportation safety regulations.

“The failure of some shippers to comply with these requirements has been the root cause of virtually all of reported air cargo transport incidents,” including the three most recent lithium battery incidents on the Federal Aviation Administration’s list, the 19-member coalition states in a recent letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Indeed, none of the incidents listed by FAA—and no others of which we are aware—were attributable to properly packaged, compliant shipments,” the letter adds.

“But the U.S. DOT does not appear to be increasing enforcement pressures on shippers of improperly packaged lithium batteries or addressing shippers’ violations of regulations,” the coalition’s letter states.

A “more concerted effort” by DOT to promote international enforcement of existing lithium battery regulations and demonstrate global leadership is needed, the coalition emphasized. DOT’s renewed emphasis on international enforcement should precede enactment of “new and overbroad mandates that would penalize legitimate businesses who ship items in full compliance of the regulations as a standard business practice,” the letter states.

The coalition also emphasizes the need for regulatory initiatives to track down the manufacturers of counterfeit batteries and reduce the risks these batteries pose in transportation. The DOT should coordinate enforcement and outreach efforts with regulators in countries where shipments of counterfeit batteries originate and publicize actions taken against non-compliant shippers, the letter says. “But we believe, as we have for a long time, that without active, visible enforcement efforts on the part of U.S. DOT and its counterparts in other countries, shippers who violate the essential safety regulations will not understand the consequences of such illegal actions,” the letter says.

The coalition members are:

Airforwarders Association
Air Transport Association
Cargo Airline Association
Consumer Electronics Association
Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition
CTIA – The Wireless Association
Dangerous Goods Advisory Council
Express Association of America
Information Technology Industry Council
International Air Transport Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
National Retail Federation
PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Security Industry Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The International Air Cargo Association

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