Amazon could be hit with a hefty fine from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after it accused the web giant of improperly shipping hazardous materials by air, causing injury to UPS handlers in the process.
The FAA said Monday it was proposing a $350,000 fine for the alleged transgression, which took place on October, 2014. Amazon has a month to respond to the accusation.
According to the FAA’s filing, the consignment, a one-gallon container of “Amazing Liquid Fire” corrosive drain cleaner, was being shipped from Louisville, Kentucky to Boulder, Colorado.
The contents of the package leaked through the fiberboard box, with nine UPS workers experiencing a “burning sensation” after handling the consignment.
The FAA claims the product was not properly packaged, nor sent with a proper declaration notifying handlers of the hazardous materials. In addition, the FAA said the company failed to provide emergency response information with the package, and that those handling it had not received required hazardous materials training.
“Amazon has a history of violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations,” the FAA said in a release, explaining that between February 2013 and September 2015 the e-commerce giant was found to have breached regulations 24 other times.
Commenting in relation to the FAA’s proposed fine, Amazon told Reuters it ships “tens of millions of products every day and have developed sophisticated technologies to detect potential shipping hazards and use any defects as an opportunity for continuous improvement,” adding, “We will continue to partner with the FAA in this area.”
The FAA has been paying increased attention to the issue of hazardous materials in air freight following a number of incidents in recent years, the Wall Street Journal reported. For example, a UPS Boeing 747 aircraft leaving Dubai was brought down soon after take off by a lithium-battery fire that started in its cargo hold. Both pilots died in the 2010 accident.
The FAA’s proposed fine comes as Amazon works to build its own end-to-end delivery network, enabling it to rely less heavily on services operated by the likes of UPS and FedEx as it seeks to boost reliability and cut costs. Its plan includes a recent deal with the Air Transport Services Group to use 20 Boeing 767 cargo planes for moving packages big and small across the U.S. Another part of the plan includes the use of its own drones for so-called “last mile” delivery to customers’ homes, a venture that depends to a great extent on regulations laid down by none other than the FAA.
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