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IATA Calls for Dangerous Goods Non-Compliance to be Criminalized

Posted March 12, 2015

At the World Cargo Symposium in Shanghai, The Loadstar’s Alex Lennane reports today that members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have called on governments to criminalize the shipping of misdeclared dangerous goods.

Speaking to delegates at the conference, James Woodrow, head of IATA’s Cargo Committee and Director of Cathay Pacific’s cargo operations, told the industry that it must close ranks to stop non-declared dangerous goods been shipped by air. “Flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft safety at risk, must be criminalized, as are other actions which place aircraft safety at risk,” he said. “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating producers and exporters,” Woodrow said.

An example of misdeclaring goods cited by an IATA official was the re-labelling of 300-watt-hour batteries as 100-watt-hour in order to circumvent air cargo restrictions.

A paper drafted last year by the International Coordination Council of Aerospace Industry Associations (ICCAIA) included a call that lithium battery cargos be banned on passenger aircraft. Research from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has concluded that badly packaged batteries could cause fires and threaten aircraft. Even when aircraft holds are fitted with Halon gas fire suppression systems as a “last line of defence” FAA tests have shown that a “thermal run away event” cannot not be stopped and could potentially result in a “catastrophic event” while in flight.

Lithium batteries dominate global manufacture because high demand for the lightweight, relatively powerful power packs as industry strives for portability and ways to store renewable energy. Lithium metal batteries are not chargeable and are used in toys, watches and medical devices. Their combustion begins at 760C. Lithium-ion batteries found in cell phones and laptops are rechargeable. So-called “thermal runaway” caused by heat, rapid discharge or overcharging of just one cell, can result in temperatures exceeding 550C.

“Disappointingly, we are seeing some willful non-compliance in the area of lithium batteries,” said IATA CEO Tony Tyler. “The rise of e-commerce and the ability of small businesses to export to a global audience has created a significant new market of shippers who are not necessarily familiar with the rules,” he added.