Charcoal is imported for a variety of purposes, including barbecues and shisha pipes (water bubble pipes).
Because charcoal is porous, a lot of surface area is available for reactions with oxygen and/or air. Therefore, charcoal has the potential to self-heat. This has mostly been observed in containers in recent years. Some charcoal tablets used in shisha pipes are not made entirely of charcoal; instead, they may also contain impurities like metal filings and hydrocarbon liquid, which could increase their propensity to self-heat.
Packaging needs, such as hermetically sealed, smaller packets, may therefore be necessary. Charcoal may need to be properly heated up and then cooled before packing in accordance with the IMDG Code. By allowing the charcoal to oxidise under supervised conditions, we can lessen its reactivity. Although IMDG covers charcoal, proper sampling, testing, and certification may be employed in specific situations to demonstrate that no additional safety measures are required. Examining the pertinent documentation can be helpful.
The OOW had just seen a cargo ship leave port when she observed smoke coming from the front of the ship. He immediately notified the Master, who then asked the Chief Officer to look into it. The Chief Officer determined that it originated from a container in the ship’s forward section.
Contents of the container
Fire hoses were utilised to spray the container and to cool the boundary of the containers that were next to it once a fire crew had been assembled. The burning container was located at the base of the stack. The team attempted to open the container’s doors, but they were only able to partially do so before they started to spray water. Charcoal was the contents of the container.
The ship made a full turn and headed back toward the point of departure. An emergency response team boarded the ship after it had berthed and helped the crew. Quickly, the smouldering crate was emptied. The charcoal lacked IMDG indicators and had not been designated as dangerous goods. It is crucial to understand that all IMDG-classified charcoal, whether activated or not, belongs to IMDG class 4.2. If the container had been carried under a deck in the cargo hold in this instance, it might have been disastrous.
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Source: Swedish Club