FAA fines Amazon subsidiary for improper labeling of hazardous cargo

McClatchy InteractiveFebruary 7, 2014 

The Federal Aviation Administration Friday proposed civil penalties totaling nearly $300,000 for two companies, including a subsidiary of online retailer Amazon for a mislabled hazardous materials shipment and a California flight school for failure to inspect aircraft seat locks.

The FAA fined Amazon Fulfillment Services $78,000 for the improper labeling of a hazardous material shipment on a FedEx plane from Lexington, Ky., to Corpus Christi, Texas. 

The agency said Amazon shipped a quart of high-gloss enamel paint on the flight that leaked through the package. The paint is considered a Class 3 flammable material, but was not documented correctly.

The FAA also fined Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Atwater, Calif., $204,000 for operating nine Cessna 152 aircraft the agency said didn't comply with federal regulations. The agency said that the seat locking pins were not inspected, and that an unlocked seat could cause the pilot to lose control of the plane.

The FAA does not make annual statistics on civil penalties publicly available. However, it does offer data on the fines the agency has imposed for hazardous materials violations.

Since 2005, according to FAA numbers, $41.7 million in such penalties were collected. The fines ranged from $250 to $500,000.

In the Amazon case, the FAA said that the paint was not accompanied by shipping papers that would have indicated it as a hazardous material, nor was it packaged with absorbent material that could have contained a spill.

Both companies have 30 days to respond to the agency's proposed penalties.

Multiple agencies within the Department of Transportation, including FAA and the Federal Railroad Administration, have enforcement authority.

Earlier this week, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined three petroleum companies $93,000 for not properly classifying the crude oil it loaded into railroad tank cars. Such shipments have been under increased scrutiny after a series of derailments involving crude oil from North Dakota.

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