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Press Release – FAA Proposes $82,500 Fine Against American Airlines for Hazmat Violations

For Immediate Release

June 1, 1999
Contact: Kathleen Bergen
Phone: 404-305-5100

The Federal Aviation Administration Southern Region has proposed to assess a $82,500 civil penalty against American Airlines for allegedly transporting hazardous materials aboard aircraft in violation of U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Material Regulations.

The shipment included 13 metal containers holding fish livers contaminated with Breve Toxin, which were packaged for shipment in seven boxes. Breve Toxin is an infectious substance and is classified as a hazardous material. It is the cause of the phenomenon commonly known as "red tide." In a "red tide," mass death of fish and other sea life occur.

The shipment was flown on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth and onto Miami on March 27, 1997. The next day, ground-handling workers at the American Airlines cargo facility at Miami International Airport discovered the shipment had spilled. American Airlines called a hazardous materials clean-up contractor to repackage the boxes into orange biohazard bags. On April 4, 1997, during a routine inspection, FAA discovered the bags were not stored in an upright position, as required by regulations.

FAA also discovered that American Airlines failed to notify DOT, FAA, and the Centers for Disease Control of this incident in a timely and proper manner, as required by federal regulations.

The shipment originated in New Zealand on March 25, 1997. A New Zealand doctor shipped the boxes from Auckland to Los Angeles on an Air New Zealand flight.

American Airlines had 30 days from receipt of the FAA notice to submit a reply to the agency. This announcement is made in accordance with the FAA's practice of releasing information to the public on newly issued enforcement actions involving penalties of $50,000 or more.


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