Friday, November 7, 2014

Tank Container Accidents Principally Caused by Contamination

Insurance Body Demonstrates Where the Problems are and How to Avoid Them
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – WORLDWIDE – At this week’s Asia Tank Container Organization’s (atco) General Meeting in Shanghai, the TT Club’s Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific region, Phillip Emmanuel, outlined the major risks facing the tank container industry. The TT Club habitually works back from the reported incidents in any particular field of freight carried and extensive examination of the evidence has led the Club to a clear conclusion regarding the main cause of accidents in the sector.

Tank container records for the last nine years revealed that contamination was the leading danger, accounting for over 46% of the volume of incidents on TT’s books for the period studied. Emmanuel provided valuable insight into the nature of these incidents and the best forms of damage limitation and risk avoidance, saying:

“Contamination can result from any number of factors. However, the incompatibility of the tank itself with the cargo concerned is the most common cause. This is often the result of insufficient cleaning, particularly of the discharge valves and baffle plates, following the carriage of the previous cargo. Corroded or worn man lid seals, and issues occurring either at the origin land tank or during the loading procedure are also common contributory factors.

“In terms of impact damage, most tanks are built to highly robust standards and the incidence of leaks from such accidents is low. Damaged or failure of valves, seals a gaskets are much more common in occurrence. When there is a failure in any of the above control factors, something as simple as a change in ambient temperature through the supply chain can result in a sufficient build in pressure to cause a leak.”

Looking to the future, Emmanuel concluded by outlining the priorities that TT Club consider noteworthy in bringing down both the cost and danger of tank container operation. There needs to be wider industry analysis of incidents and accompanied by knowledge sharing, so that lessons can be widely learned. There should be a continuous review and identification of risks together with greater transparency within the supply chain, as both its complexity increases and the nature of its environment evolves. Finally, there must be a greater emphasis on training.

Photo: Chart showing causes of claims involving Tank Containers: by volume (2006 – 2014)