Elon Musk's Brain Implant Startup Neuralink Found Violating US Hazardous Material Transport Rules: Report

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jan 27, 2024 02:03 AM EST

Elon Musk's brain implant firm Neuralink was fined for breaking US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations on transporting hazardous materials.

Citing records from the agency, Reuters reported that during inspections in February 2023 at Neuralink facilities in Texas and California, DOT investigators discovered lapses, including the company's failure to register as a hazardous material transporter.

(Photo : Omar Marques/Getty Images)
KRAKOW, POLAND - JANUARY 22: SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during live interview with Ben Shapiro at the symposium on fighting antisemitism on January 22, 2024 in Krakow, Poland.

Elon Musk's Brain Implant Firm Neuralink's Improper Packaging of Hazardous Waste

The investigation found improper packaging of hazardous waste, including the flammable liquid Xylene, which can cause adverse health effects. DOT fined Neuralink $2,480, which was lower than the initial amount assessed due to the company's commitment to address the issues.

A spokesperson with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the DOT agency that investigated Neuralink, confirmed the violations and fine to Reuters and said the investigation is now closed.

Reuters reviewed the records from the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM, the advocacy group that opposes the use of animals in medical research, got the documents through an open records request.

However, Reuters reported that the documents did not reveal why Neuralink would have to transport hazardous materials or if any harm resulted from the violations.

READ ALSO: Elon Musk's Neuralink Raises Another $43 Million as It Gears up for Human Trials 

FDA Clearance of Elon Musk's Firm Neuralink

Neuralink, which has yet to comment on the matter, received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 2023 for its first human trial, testing the company's implant in humans.

This is a significant milestone for the startup, which was valued at up to $5 billion based on private stock trades. Neuralink aims to create a device that could be implanted in humans to monitor brain activity.

This microchip would be inserted into a patient's skull and placed into the brain. The trial aims to assess the safety of Neuralink's implant for enabling individuals with paralysis to control external devices using their minds. 

DOT launched an investigation last year in response to a Reuters report about internal complaints by Neuralink employees on rushed animal experiments that caused needless suffering and deaths. 

PCRM has once alleged that Neuralink may have transported in 2019, without proper containment measures, brain implants used in its monkey experiments that are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus and herpes B virus.

However, Reuters reported that DOT found no evidence that Neuralink had shipped something that contained an infectious substance.

READ MORE: Elon Musk's AI Startup X.AI Seeks to Raise $1 Billion From Equity Investors

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