Elon Musk’s Neuralink Fined for Storing Hazardous Materials Without Proper Protocols

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At a time when Tesla just suffered its biggest daily share price decline since 2020 on the back of a “disastrous” earnings call, Reuters is out with a report that Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant venture, has been flagged for storing hazardous materials without proper protocols.

To wit, as per the documents viewed by Reuters, investigators belonging to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) found hazardous waste, including liquid Xylene – which is not only flammable but can also cause “headaches, dizziness, confusion, loss of muscle coordination and even death,” as per the CDC – during an inspection of Neuralink’s facilities in Texas and California in February 2023. The DOT also found that the hazardous materials were packaged improperly.

As a result of these findings, Neuralink was fined $2,480 after the initially assessed penalty was lowered. The DOT further discovered that Neuralink had failed to register itself as a transporter of hazardous materials, as mandated by the prevailing regulations.

A spokesperson for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency working under the Department of Transportation and whose investigators had physically visited Neuralink’s facilities in February 2023, confirmed to Reuters the nature of violations and the resulting fine imposed on the brain implant startup. The spokesperson also added that the inquiry was now closed.

This inquiry was apparently launched after Reuters reported on complaints emanating from within Neuralink about rushed experimentation on animals that was purportedly causing needless suffering and death. The startup has killed around 1,500 animals, including sheep, pigs, and monkeys, in its quest to overcome human paralysis via brain implants that control external mobility aids.

In September 2023, the US FDA cleared Neuralink for its first human trials. The company noted in its press release:

During the study, the R1 Robot will be used to surgically place the N1 Implant’s ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. Once in place, the N1 Implant is cosmetically invisible and is intended to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes movement intention. The initial goal of our BCI [Brain-Computer Interface] is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

In June 2023, private stock trades valued Neuralink at around $5 billion, up from a $2 billion valuation that the startup commanded in 2021.

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