Industry targets rogue lithium battery shipments

Stricter penalties and criminalisation must be brought in for manufacturers of knock-off, unsafe lithium batteries, say industry bodies
Lithium batteries, Health and safety, Flight Safety
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A group of industry bodies have pledged to increase their efforts to ensure the safe air transport of lithium batteries.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), are renewing calls for governments to crack down on manufacturers of counterfeit batteries and of mislabelled and non-compliant shipments introduced into the supply chain.

Consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing by 17% annually. With it, the number of incidents involving misdeclared or undeclared lithium batteries has also risen. 

The campaign includes an industry information sharing platform has been launched to target misdeclared consignments of lithium batteries.

The reporting system will allow real-time information about dangerous goods incidents to be reported in order to identify and eradicate acts of deliberate or intentional concealment and misdeclaration.

A series of dangerous goods awareness seminars are being held across the world targeting countries and regions where compliance has been challenging. In addition, an education and awareness program for customs authorities has been developed in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Nick Careen, IATA’s senior VP, airport, passenger, cargo and security, said: “Dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, are safe to transport if managed according to international regulations and standards. But we are seeing an increase in the number of incidents in which rogue shippers are not complying.

“The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties.”

Governments must also play their role with much stricter enforcement of international regulations to ensure the safe transport of these vital shipments, said IATA bosses. The four trade associations urge regulators to follow through with significant fines and penalties for those who circumvent regulations for the transport of lithium batteries. 

Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo, said: “Safety is aviation’s top priority. Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties.

“Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for stopping rogue producers and exporters. Abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

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