Following an isolated hazardous materials incident involving lithium-ion batteries that were mis-declared, improperly packaged, and not labeled correctly, the US Coast Guard placed a hold on all cargo containers connected to a specific shipping company this month in the Port of Los Angeles.
In early March, firefighters responded to a container fire in the area. Information on the bill of lading led them to believe that the container involved was packed with synthetic resins. Instead, they discovered lithium-ion batteries at the center of the blaze.
The Coast Guard then held the movement of forty-eight containers and searched for additional hazardous materials in cooperation with the shipping company, PHMSA, and US customs officials.
“Undeclared hazardous materials pose a severe risk to the safety of cargo vessels, the ports, and first responders… the Coast Guard is dedicated to working with all shippers to ensure hazardous materials are properly marked and packaged for safety transportation.”
The Long Beach Press-Telegram has more details.
Capt. Rebecca Ore
US Coast Guard
What Are “Undeclared” Hazardous Materials?
Hazardous materials shippers must communicate the hazard(s) of their products and wastes by using hazard labels, markings, placards, and accurate shipping papers.
When shippers fail to meet these requirements, “undeclared” hazardous materials enter the cycle of transportation. Supply chain workers, freight brokers, and emergency responders will not know what’s in the package, and will probably believe that the cargo is non-hazardous.
This can lead to mishandling, serious safety issues, and a slowed response to fires and spills.
For all shippers, identifying products and substances that are subject to US and international hazardous materials/dangerous goods regulations is a crucial step to ensure shipments move safely, in compliance, and in a timely manner.
Increased Hazmat Civil Penalties
The Coast Guard, along with US DOT, recently increased the civil penalties for shippers who violate of hazardous materials shipping and transportation standards—including failure to provide hazmat training
for covered employees. The maximum civil penalty for a typical violation increased five thousand dollars to $89,678.
For violations that result in serious injury, death, or property damage, the maximum civil penalty is now more than $200,00 per day, per violation.
Keep Your Lithium Batteries Moving
Lion's Shipping Lithium Batteries online course prepares employees to recognize and comply with the unique regulations for shipping lithium batteries by all modes of transportation—from classification and naming to markings, labels, shipping papers, and reliefs for small cells and batteries.
The course provides hazmat general awareness, security awareness, and function-specific training to help satisfy US DOT (49 CFR), IATA DGR, and IMDG Code training mandates for logistics leaders and hazmat employees (Learn more).