Senator Pushes Samsung on Lithium Battery Safety, Possibly Others

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Official PortraitConnecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal wants to get to the bottom of the lithium-ion battery issue in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Samsung stopped selling some 1.9 million of the devices after the batteries in several of the Note 7s caught fire, even when the phone was turned off.

Blumenthal’s questions go beyond the specific battery Samsung uses and could extend to other smartphones and other consumer electronic devices that employ lithium-ion batteries. The Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security tells the electronics company in a letter he wants to gather information to “identify what steps need to be taken to ensure all electronic manufacturers can better guarantee the safety of lithium-ion batteries that are so commonly used in consumer products today.”  

He asks who specifically makes the original and replacement batteries, how they are tested and “your understanding” of how the “defective” batteries passed safety testing. “Have you been able to conclude whether the issue is due to a flaw in the lithium-ion battery’s configuration, design, components, manufacturing, or something else?” asks the Senator.

Samsung has its own lab for testing, Inside Towers has reported. Blumenthal asks whether the manufacturer has “subjected the faulty batteries” to “more stringent standards, conducted any special independent testing,” or sought more accreditation for its own test labs since the defect came to light.

The Samsung situation is “one of the largest recalls of a consumer product related to a faulty lithium-ion battery,” according to Blumenthal.  

By the Senator’s count, as of October 19, when the letter was written, Samsung reported 96 incidents of batteries overheating in the U.S., including 13 burns and 47 cases of property damage. He also asked the company who it considers liable for damages from a recalled device and what damages Samsung is offering customers “who may have suffered personal injury, property damage, or both.”

October 21, 2016

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