Personal Injury

FAA fines show companies routinely ignore hazmat shipping regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been cracking down on shipments of hazardous materials and has published a notice of civil penalties issued against 11 companies. The FAA issued the fines in response to improperly packaged, marked, classed, described, or labeled hazardous materials. The penalties total $720,000 and range from $54,000 to $91,000.

Hazardous cargo that is shipped in violation of federal rules and regulations poses a grave risk of injury and death to anyone in the vicinity of the package. Most of the packages were discovered by shipping company staff, customs officials, and airport personnel because they were leaking.

One of the most infamous examples of hazardous materials causing an airplane crash occurred aboard Valujet flight 592 in 1996. The Atlanta-bound plane crashed in the Everglades after leaving Miami because an airline contractor shipped  mislabeled and improperly packaged oxygen canisters. The containers exploded during flight and the excess oxygen released in the explosions fed the fire. All 110 people aboard were killed.

Proposed fines and the companies found in violation of hazardous materials shipping violations are:

• $91,000 against Boston Scientific Corporation of Natick, Mass, for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing medical-grade silicone fluid, a flammable liquid, to DHL for transportation by air from Alajuela, Costa Rica, to Boston Scientific headquarters, Oct. 23, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. DHL employees at its Cincinnati sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $78,000 against Westfield Coatings Corp., of Westfield, Mass., for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing paint, a flammable liquid, for transportation by air from Westfield to Hudson, N.C., August 11, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the material leaking from the package.
• $54,000 against Fragrance Resources, Inc., of Clifton, N.J., for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing a flammable liquid for transportation by air from Clifton to Ft Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 23, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the package.
• $65,000 against Flight Options, LLC of Cleveland, for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing isopropyl alcohol, a flammable liquid, to UPS for transportation by air from Cleveland to Las Vegas, Sept. 9, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $54,000 against the Hammelman Corporation, Dayton, Ohio, for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing methanol, a flammable liquid, for transportation by air from Pompano Beach, Fla., to Dayton, March 23, 2010. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $58,000 against Kemet Electronics Corporation of Simpsonville, S.C. for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing silver paint, a flammable liquid, to UPS for transportation by air from Brownsville, Texas to Simpsonville, Aug. 20, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $56,000 against MSI Aircraft MTC SVS International, GMBH of Ruesselsheim, Germany, for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing a fuel control unit, to FedEx for transportation by air from Ruesselsheim to Miami, May 22, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. A fuel control unit containing jet fuel is considered a hazardous material. FedEx employees at Fort Lauderdale discovered the shipment was leaking.
• $65,000 against Federal Express of Memphis, Tenn., for allegedly accepting a fiberboard box containing an unspecified toxic, corrosive liquid classified as a poison, for transportation by air from Oxford, Ala., to Chino Calif., April 1, 2010. An FAA hazardous materials special agent identified the mislabeled shipment before it could be loaded on an aircraft.
• $54,000 against Vitacost.com of Lexington, N.C., for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing a flammable liquid and non-hazardous material for transportation by air from Lexington to Boca Raton, Fla., Jan. 29, 2010. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $91,000 against Cardinal Health of Madison, Miss., for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing skin care products containing alcohol, a flammable liquid, to DHL for transportation by air from Madison to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 11, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. DHL workers at the Cincinnati sorting hub discovered the leaking package.
• $54,000 against PSS Medical of Lubbock, Texas for allegedly offering a fiberboard box containing ammonium nitrate, a corrosive material, to UPS for transportation by air from Lubbock to Las Cruces, N.M., Dec. 31, 2009. The shipment was undeclared. UPS workers at the Louisville sorting hub discovered the package while sorting packages for shipment and delivery.