[ID] => 10793
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-03-26 09:44:57
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-26 09:44:57
[post_content] => The fire aboard the containership MSC Flaminia
in the Atlantic Ocean in July 2012 has had an ongoing impact on the transport of dangerous goods, and polymerising substances in particular. The seat of the fire was shown to be in tank containers with divinyl benzene (DVB), which has spontaneously polymerised, apparently after being held for too long in hot ambient conditions prior to loading, and then being stowed next to heated cargo on the ship.
The court case assigned liability to the shipper and the NVOCC, in this case the tank container operator; however, appeals continue.
Given the severity of the fire, the financial losses incurred, and the loss of life involved in the MSC Flaminia
incident, regulators have taken steps to address what are apparently increasing problems involved in the transport of polymerising substances and introduced new UN numbers so as to make their carriage more transparent, especially to carriers.
More than 55 products are covered by the new provisions, so there is widespread applicability. Much attention has been focused on their implementation in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code and in particular the declaration and stowage of such products aboard containerships.
There is, however, concern – particularly among NVOCCs – that the requirements in the IMDG Code are not easy to comply with in practice. While all shippers should be able to properly classify and declare their goods and provide that information to the NVOCC, the new provisions for polymerising substances involve the transmission of details of any inhibitors used to stabilise the cargo along the supply chain.
In the modern maritime supply chain, increasing levels of computerisation have made the transmission of information along the chain easier; however, at the same time, they have eroded the need for specialist technical knowledge within the supply chain and have also placed limits on the information itself. The details required by the IMDG Code do not fit easily with those computerised systems and it is difficult to see how the transmission of critical information along the chain can be assured.
WHAT SHOULD THE OPERATOR DO
In order to provide some clarity on the new issues surrounding polymerising substances, the International Tank Container Organisation (ITCO) has drawn up a guidance note for its members, giving advice on the use of tank containers for the transport of polymerising substances that are chemically stabilised through the use of inhibitors.
The key to safe transport of polymerising substances is found in special provision 386 in the IMDG Code. When substances are stabilised by temperature control, SP 386 points to section 7.3.7 of the Code. Transport under chemical stabilisation is a more complex matter, however; SP 386 requires that the level of stabilisation within the substance should be sufficient to prevent dangerous polymerisation in a portable tank at a bulk mean temperature of 45°C, through to the end destination.
This means that the tank container operator should require the “person offering the tank for transport” (as defined in the IMDG Code) to confirm in writing all the relevant information and the required actions to be carried out by the tank operator. This could appear in section 9 of the dangerous goods declaration, ‘additional handling information’, or if appropriate, an attached document. The required information should cover:
- Confirmation that the substance is sufficiently stabilised to prevent the dangerous polymerisation at a bulk mean temperature of 45°C in accordance with IMDG Code SP 386 for the duration of transport event
- The temperature of the substance at the time and date of filling the tank
- Anticipated ambient temperatures from the time of filling, during transport and until discharge (including any period prior to loading aboard ship)
- Contingency provisions for any delays or events that might occur during the transport
- Confirmation that no temperature control is required to be fitted to the tank or, if temperature control is required, the specification of cooling requirement and the tank type used.
The MSC Flaminia
case has established that the NVOCC has a responsibility to have this information available and to make sure that the carrier is also provided with it. The methodology by which that transfer of information happens is not defined in the IMDG Code and current EDI systems are not designed to handle it. Some changes will have to be made if the NVOCC’s obligations are to be met.
There is the potential for confusion over the identity of the ‘operator’; this is currently not closely defined in the IMDG Code (nor in other regulations) and the identity of the portable tank operator is generally taken to be the owner. Given that such a large proportion of the tank container fleet is actually owned by leasing companies, that definition does not reflect operation in practice. Moves are underway to change the definition at UN level.
The ITCO guidance document is currently only available, via its website, to members; it is likely that it will be revised, as the provisions in the IMDG Code only become mandatory on 1 January 2020.
[post_title] => Polymerisers: Sticky stuff
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => polymerisers-sticky-stuff
[post_modified] => 2019-03-25 14:47:03
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-25 14:47:03
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10793
[menu_order] => 0
[post_type] => post
[comment_count] => 0
[filter] => raw
Polymerisers: Sticky stuff
New regulations on the transport of polymerising substances are proving a headache for many in the supply chain, not least tank container operators