MIT fined over air cargo package fire

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is fining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) US$175,000 for shipping electronic devices that caught fire at a FedEx sorting facility.

MIT was trying to ship the 33 small electronic devices overnight to Seattle (US). Part of an experiment to track the movement of rubbish, each device was powered by a lithium battery. Two of the devices overheated and melted, causing their fibreboard box packaging to catch fire. FedEx employees, not realising there were hazardous goods within the package, tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the blaze as it moved on a conveyor to a FedEx freighter.

The FAA said the batteries should have been properly packed to prevent such a short circuit occurring.

The institute has 30 days to appeal.

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