ICAO proposes hazardous cargo rules

14 / 02 / 2012

THE Dangerous Goods Panel at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed on new rules for the shipping of lithium batteries.

“I’ve been working on lithium batteries for 10 years and this is the biggest development to date,” Mark Rogers, head of hazardous-materials handling issues for the Air Line Pilots Association union, and a member of the ICAO panel, says.

Under the proposed ICAO standards, all lithium battery shipments will have to be labelled as hazardous material. Companies wanting to ship batteries must train employees on how to handle the shipments.

“It is imperative that countries strictly enforce these new regulations that go into effect on 1 January 2013, or the hard work by the ICAO Panel will be for naught,” the Rechargeable Battery Association comments.

The group previously said proposed US regulations were too costly and would not improve safety. Since then, in February this this year, US Congress passed an aviation bill restricting US regulators from imposing rules stricter than those set by the ICAO.

Lithium batteries have been suspected as the cause of a fire on a UPS freighter on 7 February 2006. The pilots were not injured. Separately, a UPS 747-400, which caught fire 22 minutes after it left Dubai (UAE) on 3 September 2010, was carrying more than 81,000 lithium batteries. The freighter crashed, killing two pilots.