An Essex-based supplier of medical goods and services has pleaded guilty to sending incorrectly packaged lithium batteries by air from Stansted Airport in 2013. L E West Ltd was fined £3,000 at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Tuesday 11 March 2014 for breaching international dangerous goods regulations.
The Court heard the company had attempted to send four lithium manganese dioxide battery packs, used in medical defibrillators, to a customer in Portugal without packing them in an approved container, or marking and declaring the shipment as containing dangerous goods. The consignment was detected by an employee of the distribution company, UPS, before it was loaded on to a cargo aircraft. UPS then reported the incident to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who brought the prosecution.
Lithium batteries are classified globally as dangerous goods and as such are a known risk to aviation safety when incorrectly packaged. Such batteries have been responsible for several documented fires both in the cabin and cargo holds on board aircraft.
The CAA said it was vital for all companies sending such dangerous goods by air to follow the correct process. Anyone found to be in breach of the regulations, and thereby endangering flight safety can expect to be prosecuted.
L E West, which was also ordered to pay costs to the CAA, has committed to improving staff training and management oversight following the incident in May 2013.
More information on Dangerous Goods can be found at www.caa.co.uk/dangerousgoods
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The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.