The Teamsters Union today urged the House of Representatives to swiftly pass legislation tightening safety requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a hazardous materials safety bill last week. It requires lithium batteries on cargo airplanes to be stowed where the crew can reach them. Lithium cells and batteries can ignite on an airplane.
“If these batteries ignite on a cargo aircraft, the crewmembers need to be able to reach them to put out the fire,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
In 2006, lithium batteries ignited in a cargo plane as it approached the airport, nearly killing the crew and destroying the aircraft. There have been several similar, smaller fires this year.
The Teamsters represent 2,550 air cargo pilots at 15 cargo airlines.
The Teamsters Union also supports the bill’s provision that bans the transportation of flammable liquid in the loading lines of tank trucks. The standard has to be met within two years for newly manufactured vehicles.
“These wet lines are can be fatal to our drivers and to the traveling public when they’re involved in an accident,” said LaMont Byrd, Teamsters director of Safety and Health.
The committee amended the bill to extend the time for the existing fleet to meet the standard from 2020 to 2025.
“We oppose any further efforts to delay this important safety requirement,” Byrd said. “Ten years was ample time for industry to comply with this rule, and 15 is more than sufficient.”
Currently, 30 to 50 gallons of flammable liquid such as fuel can be transported in unprotected loading lines beneath tank trucks.
Byrd said the requirement would be worth the cost -- $2,000 to $4,000 on vehicles worth $80,000 to $100,000 – for equipment to purge the loading lines, known as “wet lines.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.