Sat, Sep 03, 2011
Prestigious University Allegedly Shipped Devices With Lithium
Batteries Which Caught Fire
FAA is proposing a $175,000 civil penalty against the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) for alleged violations of Department
of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations. The FAA alleges
that MIT offered a fiberboard box containing 33 electronic devices
to FedEx for transportation by air from Cambridge to Seattle on
Aug. 25, 2009. Each electronic device consisted of a lithium
battery attached to a circuit board and tube-like container.
The package was discovered with smoke and flames coming from it
while it was moving on a conveyor at the FedEx sorting facility in
Medford, MA. Two of the devices in the package heated and
melted, which caused the surrounding cushioning and packaging to
catch fire. Because the package was not properly labeled and
marked, Federal Express employees did not know the shipment
contained hazardous material. They made several unsuccessful
attempts to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher.
Specifically, the batteries were not packaged in a manner that
would prevent a short-circuit that could create sparks or generate
a dangerous quantity of heat. MIT allegedly offered the box
when it was not packaged, marked, classed, described, labeled or in
condition for shipment as required by regulations. The
airbill accompanying the shipment specifically stated the shipment
did not contain dangerous goods.
In addition, the FAA alleges MIT employees were not properly
trained and tested to handle hazardous material.
MIT has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement
letter to respond to the agency.
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