MIT faces possible $175,000 FAA penalty

One of the nation’s most prestigious universities faces a possible $175,000 penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has proposed the civil penalty for alleged violations of the Department of Transportation’s Hazardous Materials Regulations by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The FAA alleges MIT sent a fiberboard box containing 33 electronic devices to FedEx for transport from Cambridge to Seattle a little more than two years ago.

The package ended up in smoke and flames, according to a release from FAA, while it was being moved on a conveyor belt at a FedEx sorting facility. The news release said two of the electronic devices, which consisted of lithium batteries attached to “a circuit board and tube-like container,” heated and melted, causing the surrounding cushioning and packaging to catch fire.

The FAA alleges the package was not properly labeled and marked, so FedEx employees did not know it contained hazardous material. The FAA also alleges MIT employees were not properly trained and tested to handle hazardous material.

MIT has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.