Elon Musk’s brain implant company is facing scrutiny from, of all federal agencies, the Department of Transportation.
Reuters revealed in an exclusive report that Neuralink – a medtech firm that hopes to one day offer implantable devices that help humans dealing with paralysis or other debilitating conditions – will be fined by the U.S. DOT after recent inspections raised some concerns.
At issue is Neuralink’s transportation of hazardous materials without the proper paperwork. DOT records reportedly show that Neuralink was moving these materials despite not registering itself as a transporter of hazardous material, a compliance misstep that will come with a fine of just $2,480. The fine is lower than what was originally assessed, Reuters says, because Neuralink pledged to fix the problem.
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But there was another problem as well. The DOT says Neuralink was also improperly packaging hazardous waste including Xylene, a flammable liquid that, with exposure, can cause severe symptoms – even death.
And while the low fine might make the missteps appear minor, one group doesn’t agree – and that’s the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, or, PCRM.
PCRM has long opposed Neuralink’s research methods on animal welfare grounds. They have also previously suggested implanted devices “like Neuralink’s” risk “problems, including being difficult to repair and having a high potential for severe medical complications in patients.”
In the case of the DOT fines, PCRM’s director of research advocacy Ryan Merkley told Reuters the violations “once again reveal the company's sloppy, unsafe practices."