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Are Lithium-Ion Batteries An Airplane Security Threat?

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AP GRAPHIC

AP GRAPHIC

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Are lithium-ion batteries on airplanes a cause for concern?

That is a question that has been raised following a cargo plane fire in 2006 that was blamed on the batteries. More recently, in June, American Airlines flight attendants on a plane departing from JFK airport, confiscated 58 cell phones along with lithium-ion batteries from a passenger.

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in cellphones, laptop computers and many other devices like cameras.

Al Yurman, a former NTSB investigator says the batteries could pose a problem.

“If somebody has a bunch of them, it could be an ignition source,” Yurman said adding “if there is a corrosion or defect in batteries and a bunch of them catch fire in a cabin of an airplane, you could have a hazardous situation.”

Yurman’s comments also raise the question of whether terrorists could use them to cause an explosion.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) tells CBS 2 that there is no data to suggest a possible terror attack and issued the following statement:

“TSA has thoroughly studied lithium-ion and lithium batteries, commonly found in laptop computers and cameras, and determined they cannot be used as an explosive and are not a security threat in personal (carry-on) quantities.”

CBS 2’s Christine Sloan talked to some passengers who said they were not concerned.

“I think the transit authority does a good job of screening everything,” Ken Forbes said.

“We can live without the iPod or the cellphone at least till we get there,” Tom Aufiero said,

Still, Yurman says there should be a limit to how many batteries you can take on board — if not more research.

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