BIMCO Informs Of The Dangers Of Palm Kernel Shells

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  • BIMCO issues timely reminder to warn of the dangers associated with the sea transport of palm kernel shells in solid bulk form under the IMSBC Code.
  • To ship palm kernel shells in solid bulk form, a tripartite agreement in accordance with section 1.3 of the IMSBC Code will be required as it is a cargo that is not listed in the IMSBC Code.

BIMCO has issued a timely reminder regarding the risks involved in the sea transport of palm kernel shells in solid bulk form, following a relevant incident in Japan.

Dangers of sea transport in solid bulk form

According to BIMCO, recent events at the port of Ishinomaki, Japan, involved two workers found unconscious during cargo operations aboard a bulker ship carrying palm kernel shells. While the incident is under investigation by the Japanese Coast Guard to determine any connection between the cargo and the workers’ condition, it underscores the importance of understanding the hazards associated with transporting palm kernel shells.

Palm kernel shells are fibrous fragments, typically brownish-yellow, with particle sizes ranging from 5 mm to 40 mm. These shells may be obtained either after the palm oil extraction process or before its commencement.

One significant risk is that palm kernel shells are not listed in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, meaning there are no established carriage requirements for their safe transport in bulk.

Previous incidents have revealed numerous dangers, including the potential for high methane emissions leading to explosion hazards, self-heating causing oxygen depletion, and the production of carbon monoxide in cargo spaces.

Both methane and carbon monoxide are colorless and odorless gases, posing serious risks of asphyxiation and unconsciousness if inhaled, thereby endangering the safety of crew and personnel entering or working near cargo spaces.

Furthermore, confusion between palm kernel shells and “palm kernel expellers,” another by-product of palm oil processing, is common, despite their classification differences under the IMSBC Code. Transporting palm kernel shells in solid bulk form requires a tripartite agreement in accordance with section 1.3 of the IMSBC Code, as they are not listed therein.

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Source: BIMCO