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Wed, Oct 01, 2003

Emery Worldwide Pleads Guilty To Criminal Charges

What The Pilot Didn't Know Could Have Killed Him

The Department of Justice and The Department of Transportation Tuesday announced that Emery Worldwide Airlines, Inc. has pleaded guilty to 12 felony counts for violating the Hazardous Material Transportation Act. Emory has agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $6 million and develop a compliance program to detect and deter future violations.

Emery, a wholly owned subsidiary of CNF, Inc., provides air and land transportation services for business to business shippers of heavyweight cargo. Its major operation hub is near the Dayton International Airport in Vandalia (OH).

"With the sheer amount of hazardous materials being shipped on our nation's transportation infrastructure, we must track down and bring to justice those who violate our transportation laws," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "This will significantly reduce the potentially severe consequences of a hazardous materials incident, whether by air, sea, road or rail."

"Safety is the Bush Administration's highest transportation priority. Irresponsible transportation of Hazmat puts our communities at risk and jeopardizes the lives and health of the traveling public as well as the safety of first responders," said Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. "There are no shortcuts to safety, and we will give no quarter to those who violate Hazmat transportation safety requirements."

Emery's operation includes the transportation of freight designated as hazardous material under regulations issued by the Department of Transportation. The regulations require the operator of the aircraft to give the pilot-in-command of the aircraft, prior to departure, written notification of hazardous material boarded on the plane.

By its plea, Emery admits that on 12 occasions between November 1998 and July 1999 it transported hazardous material on aircraft leaving its hub without providing the required written notification to the pilot-in-command of the aircraft that hazardous material had been placed on board the aircraft. The type of hazardous material involved included freight classified as miscellaneous dangerous goods, non-flammable gas, flammable liquid, and explosive and radioactive material. Without written notification of hazmat, pilots would not have the information they need to properly respond to on-board emergencies, such as fires or spills.

"The Emery case is an important step on the road to a hazardous materials transportation system that is safer for all Americans," Environment and Natural Resources Assistant Attorney General Tom Sansonetti, whose Division prosecuted the case in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Ohio.

"Many elements of the law enforcement community, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Justice Department, worked together to bring this significant case to resolution," said Department of Transportation Inspector General Kenneth M. Mead, whose office helped investigate the case.

"The transportation of hazardous material is an area in which the safety and security of the public intersect. The message here is that the Departments of Transportation and Justice are committed to strong enforcement of hazardous materials laws and regulations for the safety and security of the public."

"Transporting hazardous materials is a necessary by-product of our industrial world," said Gregory G. Lockhart, US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. "Such tasks must be done with all regard for the safety of those involved."

FMI: www.usdoj.gov

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