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Struggle over harsher regulation of lithium batteries ensues after recent crash

November 1, 2010

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A recent UPS cargo plane crashed in Dubai after catching fire. Though the direct cause of the accident is still under investigation, officials suspect lithium batteries may be the culprit.

Lithium batteries are used in everyday devices such as watches, cell phones, and computers. Some argue that as lithium batteries are highly flammable, they should be subject to stricter regulation and be treated as hazardous materials.

The fight in Washington

According to, lobbyists for pilots unions and safety advocates support proposals to treat lithium batteries as hazardous materials as these batteries could potentially ignite, causing planes to catch fire, killing the pilot and others aboard. Pilots unions fear that it will take another larger tragedy to achieve safety changes.

On the other side of the aisle, industry groups including some of the nation’s top retailers, electronics manufacturers, battery makers, and cargo airlines argue that new rules would lead to added shipping expense and delays. These groups believe that current regulations are sufficient, just not properly enforced.


“Hazard of lithium batteries on planes sparks debate.”Lowy, Joan. Associated Press via October 2010. Accessed on 10/28/10.

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