The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for a safety loophole to be closed after a fire destroyed a truck transporting large format lithium-ion batteries.
Recommendations by the independent US government agency responsible for investigating civil transportation have been made to address “gaps in the existing regulations” uncovered during the inquiry into the fire in Canada.
The organisation proposes the closure of a loophole that allows the transportation of low-production or prototype lithium-ion cells or batteries to be shipped by aircraft with a special permit.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration SP 20323 special permit process does not require sufficient testing and evaluation of low-production or prototype batteries for thermal hazards compared to that provided under United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, Sub-section 38.3 testing.
Robert Hall, director of the NTSB Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations, said: “Through international cooperation with Canadian authorities, we’ve uncovered a safety gap in how certain lithium-ion batteries are allowed to be transported.
“The current situation presents a danger to all those involved in the transportation of these batteries, on the ground and in the air.”
NTSB called for action following an investigation into a delivery truck that was destroyed by a fire (pictured) in Ontario, Canada, on 3 June, 2016.
The fire began among a shipment of four large-format lithium-ion batteries, each of which was individually packaged in a fiberboard box.
The shipment from Braille Battery— a battery manufacturer in Sarasota, Florida— was initially transported by FedEx on two separate US-registered cargo airplanes before being transferred to the delivery truck.
The fire occurred about 10 hours after the batteries were offloaded from the cargo airplane at the Toronto, Canada, international airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the accident over concerns that the fire could also occur during air transport
A NTSB statement read: “Had the thermal runaway event occurred on an airplane, the accident could have resulted in significant damage to or the loss of the airplane.”