Monday, July 6, 2020

White Paper Calls for Holistic Action on Misdeclared Container Cargoes

Deaths and Serious Accidents Should be Prevented
Shipping News Feature

US – WORLDWIDE – The misdeclaration of cargo loaded within containers has caused many of the most serious incidents both at sea and in port for many years. Just last August some of the world's largest ocean box carriers announced they would be fining companies which misdeclared cargo, particularly if it was hazardous. Now a new white paper is calling for urgent reform to try and eliminate the practice.

The document, is published by the National Cargo Bureau (NCB), a US inspection body authorised to certify compliance with Dangerous Goods regulations and which operates under the authority of the United States Coast Guard, and conducts tens of thousands of marine surveys and inspections related to the transport of dangerous goods on behalf of vessel operators, marine terminals, insurers and shippers in support of its mission each year.

NCB inspectors say that a recent inspection initiative revealed an alarming number of containers carried by sea include misdeclared dangerous cargoes that represent a serious safety risk to crew, vessel and the environment. This has prompted the call for the industry to adopt a comprehensive, holistic and coordinated approach to address this worrying trend.

The inspection initiative also showed that 55% of containers were non-compliant with 43% failing to secure dangerous goods correctly within the container itself. Approximately 6.5% of containers carrying dangerous cargoes had been misdeclared. The white paper details 12 recommendations ranging from embracing a safety culture for dangerous goods compliance to practical measures for container and vessel inspections and monitoring.

It has been reported that, on average, a containership suffers a major fire every 60 days. However, in 2019 there were nine major containership fires reported suggesting that the frequency of incidents is increasing. Tragically, these incidents often result in loss of life, severe damage to hull and cargo as well as a series of associated consequences including significant environmental impact. It is strongly suspected that most or all of these vessel incidents were caused by issues related to poorly stowed, undeclared or misdeclared dangerous cargoes.

Now with more containers being carried overall, and with larger vessel payloads as containerships keep getting bigger, risks are increasing in number, value and concentration as Ian J Lennard, President, NCB explains, saying:

“The link between undeclared, misdeclared or poorly stowed dangerous cargoes and the increased incidence of catastrophic containership fires is hard to ignore. Because of the clear and present risk predominately to safety of life but also to ships, their cargoes and the environment, we are calling for all supply chain participants to work on a solution together.

“The reasons for issues with dangerous cargoes are diverse and include a challenging regulatory environment; cargo prohibitions; more complex supply chains; and varied levels of understanding and processes. Because of this, it is important that the stakeholders work together and adopt a range of measures that will address all potential causes.”

The white paper titled 'A comprehensive holistic approach to enhance safety and address the carriage of undeclared, misdeclared and other non-compliant dangerous goods' can be downloaded HERE.