Lithium Batteries Explode (Again) on the Scene

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall is a Counterpoint to IATA Joint Petition

The announcement of a recall of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones due to a possible defect in the assembly of the batteries (remember that batteries are a collection of “cells”) followed a bit of online chatter on discussion groups a week or so ago. IATA, in concert with battery manufacturers, users, and shippers, sent a letter to various governments urging increased enforcement of the enhanced regulations in effect since April 1, 2016 (see previous Blogs for summaries of changes).

The gist of the letter is that the majority of problems in transport are caused by the “wilful disregard of the regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers” that is leading to “overwhelming” pressure on airlines to stop carrying lithium batteries altogether. The industry position is that the development of “increasingly draconian regulation” will not significantly improve safety but will disadvantage the majority of law-abiding parties. The letter goes on to urge increased cooperative government enforcement and imposition of fines and, “where appropriate” incarceration as the solution to the issue.

The letter includes alleviation of “consumer safety issues” as a point in support of the petition, which no doubt is valid, but may not be as significant as “non-wilful” defects, carelessness, or ignorance of the regulations.

The preliminary report on the Galaxy Note 7 recall is available from “AppleInsider” »

Although only one aspect, the recent expansion of incident reporting in Canadian TDG Regulation Part 8.14, to include undeclared and misdeclared dangerous goods incidents with air cargo will assist in the ongoing effort to improve safety in transporting lithium batteries.

See Barbara’s Blog:

Transport Canada Amends TDG Reporting Requirements

Although the utility of enforcement- particularly at the source of counterfeit and wilfully supplied non-compliant batteries- may be underutilized, continued promotion of awareness of requirements to those not intimately involved in routine DG/Hazmat issues will be key to reducing incidents affecting public safety.

Clifton J. Brown

Clifton J. Brown

Clifton Brown has over 35 years of practical experience in the Canadian chemical and manufacturing industries. He has worked in research, quality, environment, health and safety in a range of industries including explosives, pesticides, manufacturing/contract packaging, pharmaceuticals, and specialty chemicals. This experience has provided a basis for dealing with a variety of regulatory approaches that have been useful in implementing and evaluating/auditing compliance. This experience has also been useful in effectively helping others to understand and apply the regulations in a North American context. Clifton represents ICC on the RDC regulatory and safe operations committees, participates in Transport Canada consultations and attends WSPS, CSSE and related activities.