IATA urges greater vigilance over rogue lithium battery shipments

Lithium-battery ©IATA

With a 17 percent year-on-year growth in demand for lithium batteries, the number of mis-declared or undeclared shipments is also on the increase. As a consequence, the International Air Transportation, in conjunction with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), is stepping up its efforts to ensure that lithium batteries are being shipped safely. According to Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security: “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.”

This new campaign is targeting three specific areas. First, a new incident and reporting alert system for airlines now enables incidents involving dangerous goods to be reported in real time in an attempt to cut out acts of deliberate concealment or mis-declaration of lithium batteries. Second, these is to be a worldwide series of awareness seminars which will target countries where compliance has proved problematic, while an education and awareness program for customs authorities has been developed in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO). Third, the aviation industry has put its support behind the adoption of a cross-domain approach to include aviation security, manufacturing standards, customs and consumer protection agencies. Currently air cargo is scanned for items that pose a risk to security such as explosives, but not safety such as lithium batteries.

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