Fumigation of cargo, especially edible cargo with pesticides such as with methyl bromide could have disastrous health repercussions warns the West of England P&I Club.
The IMO recommendations on the use of methyl bromide:
MSC.1/Circ.1358 Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Ships : – “ Fumigation with methyl bromide should be permitted only when the ship is in the confines of a port (either at anchor or alongside) and to disinfect the spaces after the crew members have disembarked (See 22.214.171.124). Prior to re-embarkation of the crew, ventilation of the treated spaces should be completed and a gas-free certificate should be issued as described in 3.1.4 before personnel are permitted to enter”.
As methyl bromide can be absorbed and subsequently disappear from the surface of the cargo, it is imperative to make adequate ventilation of the cargo spaces. This allows for the chemicals to be desorbed from the cargo in a safe manner.
The West of England P&I Club has discovered that agricultural products have been fumigated with highly toxic methyl bromide whilst the vessels are in transit. Citing the example of some vessels that were loaded with bagged rice from India and Vietnam were treated with methyl bromide fumigant, even as the crew remained on board the ship. Further, the fumigator had provided the Master with instructions to commence ventilation of the cargo spaces in order to remove the fumigant gas after the ship had set on voyage.
MSC.1/Circ.1264 Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Ships : – “Applicable to the Fumigation of Cargo Holds. Operators are recommended to follow the IMO recommendations where fumigation is concerned. BIMCO’s new Cargo Fumigation Clause, drafted with the assistance of various BIMCO members including the West of England, requires fumigation to be carried out in accordance with the IMO recommendations contained in MSC.1/Circ.1264. Operators should endeavour to incorporate the clause into charter parties where possible.”
Source: West of England P&I