Big Fines for Undeclared HazMat Shipments
Dateline, 27 December 2016: As reported by American Shipper in their article by Chris Gillis, the FAA has proposed significant fines against three companies that attempted undeclared shipments of hazardous materials by air.
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made an example of three companies for improperly presenting hazardous materials for shipment by air. Each is facing proposed fines in excess of $50,000.
Power Distributors of Columbus, OH is charged with offering a package with two quart bottles of a corrosive wood cleaner to UPS on 07 June 2016. The chemicals were not properly packaged or labeled when accepted for shipment in Pendergrass, GA and were destined for Martin, TN. The undeclared shipment was discovered when UPS employees in Louisville, KY saw the liquid stains that resulted when both bottles leaked.
Consolidated Container Co, from Atlanta, GA was caught on 13 August 2015 after FedEx workers found a leaking package that had been shipped from Katy, TX to Dallas, TX. The unmarked package contained 4 gallons of a xylene mixture and two of the bottles leaked in transit.
Posan Industry Company of Goyang City, South Korea used DHL to ship a package containing flammable paints and resins to Ontario, Canada. The leaking package was found by the DHL crew in Erlanger, KY on 19 September 2014. No attempt was made to properly package or label the dangerous goods for international shipment.
For their folly, the FAA proposed fines were $63,000 against Power Distributors, $57,400 against Consolidated Container Co., and $72,000 against Posan Industry Company.
When a company offers a package for transportation by any mode in America, they are required to classify the material or article in regards to the Hazardous Material Regulations found in title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR). Probably the most fundamental task is stated in 49 CFR 171.1(b) which states that “…each person who offers a hazardous material in commerce…” is required to perform pre-transport functions, including “Determining the hazard class of a hazardous material.”
The regulations for shipping by aircraft very clearly state in 49 CFR 175.3 that a hazardous material which is not prepared in accordance with the rules may not be offered for shipment by aircraft.
There are only a couple ways that errors like this could happen:
First, the employees at these companies could have been totally ignorant of the hazmat regulations, which would indicate a seriously deficient training program, or;
Second, the supervisors or managers of these employees pulled the “We’ve got to get this on the plane today – Don’t worry about it” routine, which would be a clear-cut case of gross negligence.
Either way, these all turned out to be very expensive shipments, but not nearly as expensive as it would have been for a plane to catch fire and fall out of the sky on top of an elementary school.
One can always find reasons to ignore the regulations, but failing to follow the rules can cost your company big time. If these companies had only taken a few simple steps, this could have all been avoided.
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