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PRBA and Air Transport Industry Urge Global Crackdown On Illegal Shipments of Lithium Batteries

PRBA and Air Transport Industry Urge Global Crackdown On Illegal Shipments of Lithium Batteries

Washington (August 22, 2016) – PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association, alongside other industry trade groups, has called for tougher enforcement of international transport regulations imposed on lithium battery manufacturers and shippers.

“The flagrant abuse of the stringent ICAO dangerous goods regulations that apply to the manufacturing, testing, labeling, packaging and shipping of lithium batteries must be stopped,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. “For too long, the criminal behavior of only a handful of unscrupulous lithium battery manufacturers and shippers has unfairly threatened the outstanding safety record of legitimate battery manufacturers while posing a clear and present danger that governments can best address through cooperative enforcement initiatives,” Kerchner added.

In a joint letter to transport, civil aviation and trade regulators in numerous countries, PRBA, IATA (the International Air Transport Association), RECHARGE (the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association) and TIACA (The International Air Cargo Association) emphasized that the major safety concern “lies not with correctly shipped batteries but the willful disregard of the regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers.”

“The answer to improving safety is the strict enforcement of existing regulations” supported by significant fines and criminal penalties, the letter stated. The letter stressed that a ban on the shipment of lithium batteries would only “add to the cost of global battery supply chains and consumer goods, while encouraging those who flout the law, further increasing safety and security risks.”

IATA has also released a video that underscored its call for a crackdown on non-compliant manufacturers and shippers of lithium batteries.

Kerchner cautioned that a ban on the shipment of lithium batteries aboard aircraft would put lives at risk by slowing delivery of life-critical and life-enhancing medical equipment and jeopardize the national security of many countries because a large number of military applications are increasingly dependent on and powered by lithium batteries.

The joint letter is just the most recent of longstanding and numerous PRBA efforts seeking strict enforcement of existing ICAO and other regulations addressing the safe air transport of lithium batteries. In June, PRBA, citing a troubling “enforcement gap,” sought a crackdown on non-compliant battery manufacturers in China. Two years ago, in a letter to ICAO, PRBA termed the lack of enforcement an issue “of global concern” and asked the organization for a meeting near Hong Kong to address compliance problems plaguing the battery industry and the lack of vigorous state enforcement efforts.

“The battery industry has waited far too long for government enforcement efforts that remain the best way to improve compliance and thereby enhance the safe manufacture and transport of lithium batteries,” Kerchner said.