IATA calls on governments to support safe lithium battery transportation

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Source: Shutterstock

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to further support the safe carriage of lithium batteries by developing and implementing global standards for screening, fire-testing, and incident information sharing.

IATA said the challenge is the rapid increase in global demand of lithium batteries. The trade association explained the market is growing 30% annually, bringing many new shippers into air cargo supply chains.

A critical risk that is evolving, for example, concerns incidents of undeclared or mis-declared shipments.

IATA said that governments’ enforcement of safety regulation for the transport of lithium batteries should include stiffer penalties for rogue shippers and the criminalisation of egregious or wilful offenses.

The organisation has asked governments to develop safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries; develop and implement a fire-testing standard that addresses lithium battery fire containment; and enhance safety data collection and sharing information between governments.

Action that has already been taken includes updates to the Dangerous Goods Regulations and the development of supplementary guidance material; the launch of a Dangerous Goods Occurrence Reporting Alert System that provides a mechanism for airlines to share information on events involving undeclared or misdeclared dangerous goods; the development of a Safety Risk Management Framework specifically for the carriage of lithium batteries; and the launch of CEIV Lithium Batteries to improve the safe handling and transport of lithium batteries across the supply chain.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said: “Airlines, shippers, manufacturers, and governments all want to ensure the safe transport of lithium batteries by air. It’s a joint responsibility. The industry is raising the bar to consistently apply existing standards and share critical information on rogue shippers.

“But there are some areas where the leadership of governments is critical. Stronger enforcement of existing regulations and the criminalization of abuses will send a strong signal to rogue shippers. And the accelerated development of standards for screening, information exchange, and fire containment will give the industry even more effective tools to work with.”

In April, TT Club called for increased vigilance to ensure secure and safe lithium battery supply chains.

Call to improve safe transport of lithium batteries

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