WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators on Monday invited outside companies and individuals to apply for the job of independent monitor for the massive recall of Takata Corp air bag inflators.
In a Web posting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set a Nov. 30 deadline for applications. NHTSA officials were not immediately available to comment, but a spokesman said earlier this month that the agency hoped to name a monitor by Christmas.
The monitor would help regulators oversee one of the biggest and most complex safety recalls in U.S. automotive history, encompassing 23 million air bag inflators in 19 million vehicles manufactured by 12 car companies. Officials say the recall could be expanded to include millions of other vehicles.
The NHTSA said the monitor’s job is to ensure Takata’s compliance and report illegal or unethical conduct to regulators or the U.S. Justice Department. Takata is required to cooperate fully with the monitor and provide unrestricted access to company documents and other information.
Takata’s inflators, which can explode with too much force and spray metal shrapnel into vehicle passenger compartments, have been linked to eight deaths and nearly 100 injuries.
Two weeks ago, the NHTSA acted to accelerate the recall under an unprecedented coordination plan that requires Takata to complete recalls for the most at-risk vehicles by Dec. 31, 2017, and for all affected vehicles two years later.
The agency said Takata would pay a $70 million fine for safety violations and could face deferred penalties of up to $130 million.
Any report of additional violations by the monitor would trigger the additional penalties, NHTSA said.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky