- It cannot be overstated how critical it is to maintain good practices when shipping dangerous goods.
- 14 July 2022 sees the passing of the tenth anniversary of the fateful Atlantic crossing that cost the lives of three seafarers and resulted in extensive damage to cargo and the ship.
- – If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any others who you may feel would be interested.
The importance of adhering to best practices when transporting risky products cannot be emphasised. Thedisastrous crossing of the Atlantic on July 14, 2002, which resulted in the deaths of three seafarers and significant damage to the ship and its cargo, will be remembered on July 14 for ten years on that date in 2022 as reported by TT Club.
The forensic investigations and litigation that followed the incident adequately demonstrate the complexity of shipping dangerous goods through the maritime supply chain in terms of regulation, practices and expectations.
The 2018 judgment in the liability phase of the litigation provides an excellent analysis of logistics workflow and is recommended reading for that alone.
The court determined that the shipper had failed to take account of the nature of the cargo and the specific circumstances of this shipment.
Following this reasoning, both the shipper and NVOC were found strictly liable under the US Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA).
The matter remains subject to appeal, unresolved ten years on, displaying one of the long-tail consequences of such incidents.
Regulation responds to incidents
Aside from the litigation, there were lessons learned from this tragic incident that was subsequently incorporated into the relevant regulations, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG code).
In two iterations of IMDG, new UN Numbers were created for this type of product, within subdivision Class 4.1 for polymerizing substances, followed by additional requirements for cargoes classified in this way to be transported under temperature control.
Worryingly, TT Club was alerted at the end of 2021 that the subject commodity was still being declared incorrectly under the previous Class 9 UN Number.
Errors, misunderstandings, mis-declarations and inadequate packing and securing lie at the heart of many significant incidents, both at sea and in storage facilities.
As ultra-large container ships have continued to increase in size – the largest currently more than three times the capacity of MSC Flaminia – the potential for economic, human and environmental impacts rise in proportion.
IMDG Code 101
The IMDG Code was initially developed as an international code for the maritime transport of dangerous goods in a packaged form approaching six decades ago.
The aspiration was to improve practices, enabling the safe carriage of dangerous goods and mitigating the risks of disasters, injuries, loss of assets and environmental damage.
Furthermore, training for all those involved in entering dangerous goods cargo into the maritime supply chain has been mandatorily applicable since 1 January 2004, under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
Since its initial introduction, the IMDG Code has been updated on a biennial cycle to maintain pace with the ever-changing needs of the industry as well as to respond to the lessons learned from incidents.
Indeed, thejudgment even made clear that the regulations merely set the baseline, an important statement for any entity or individual inclined to rely solely on the ‘letter’ in relation to consigning dangerous goods.
Introducing revised ‘Book it Right, Pack it Tight’
Recognising the importance of getting it right, TT Club has again teamed up with UK P&I Club in order to support all participants in the maritime supply chain in publishing a detailed guidance document on the IMDG requirements – ‘Book it Right, Pack it Tight’.
This version of the guidance reflects the updates in Amendment 40-20 of IMDG, which has been available to be applied voluntarily since 1 January 2021, but became mandatory from 1 June 2022.
The ‘Book it Right, Pack it Tight’ publication provides key insights for all participants in the freight supply chain responsible for preparing unitised consignments of dangerous goods for carriage by sea.
The guide is intended to support shippers, forwarders, shipping line booking personnel and those who pack dangerous goods into cargo transport units (CTUs) in the technical aspects of the IMDG Code.
The aspiration is to influence behaviours and levels of compliance by assisting all involved to understand their own duties and the duties of their contractual partners through the global supply chain.
The guidance is split into two parts. Part A of the guide breaks down the process of preparing and booking the cargo into practical steps and explores the roles and requirements of those involved in each step:
- Step 1: Classification of dangerous goods
- Step 2: Selection of packaging
- Step 3: Marking and labelling the packages
- Step 4: Preparing the transport document for booking with the shipping line
- Step 5: Applying the segregation rules
- Step 6: Packing the cargo transport unit
- Step 7: Producing the cargo transport unit-packing certificate
Part B provides background information on the IMDG Code, classification and references to further materials.
Cargo integrity matters
Closely related to the issues specific to dangerous goods are the broader issues of packing cargo in general. While the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) remains non-mandatory international law, it is clearly referenced from the IMDG Code. Equally, ‘Book it Right, Pack it Tight’ refers to the CTU Code as the definitive industry code of practice on how to pack and secure cargo of all types in cargo transport units, imploring all operators to adopt the principles therein, thus improving operational practices. For further information on this, look at TT’s cargo integrity resources.
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Source: TT Club