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TT Club campaigns for more container safety handling dangerous goods

CONTAINERSHIP fires have once more focussed attention on the poor processing of dangerous goods, says Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club's risk management director, who is leading the marine insurer's 'Cargo Integrity' campaign

26 March 2019 - 19:00

CONTAINERSHIP fires have once more focussed attention on the poor processing of dangerous goods, says Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club's risk management director, who is leading the marine insurer's 'Cargo Integrity' campaign.

The campaign has gained renewed impetus with the recent fire aboard the 7,510-TEU Yantian Express, as well as the final judgment on the 6,750-TEU MSC Flaminia explosion in July 2012 and the ongoing investigation of the fire aboard the 15,226-TEU Maersk Honan.



Even more recently comes news of the 1,300-TEU Grande America sustaining a container fire in the Bay of Biscay and subsequently sinking.



Taking the maritime segment of global supply chain, it is estimated that a major containership fire at sea occurs on average every 60 days, said the TT Club press release.



TT Club records indicate that across the intermodal spectrum as a whole, 66 per cent of incidents related to cargo damage can be attributed to poor practice in packing; that is not just in securing but also in cargo identification, declaration, documentation and effective data transfer, it said.



The calculated cost of these claims in the Marine Aviation & Transport (MAT) insurance sector is in excess of US$500 million a year.



Said Mr Storrs-Fox: 'We are endeavouring to focus all direct and indirect stakeholders on recognising and doing the right thing. One particularly critical aspect of this is the correct declaration and handling of dangerous goods (DG).'



All types of cargo can be mishandled, however wrongly classified, labelled, packed or simply inaccurately identified dangerous commodities bring the greatest potential risk of disaster.



Estimating the degree of failure to comply with best practices in this regard is not straightforward. ICHCA International, the cargo handling operatives association has calculated that of the 60 million packed containers moved each year, 10 per cent or six million are declared as DG.



Information from published government inspections, which are invariably biased towards declared DG loads, suggests that 20 per cent of these are poorly packed or incorrectly identified. This translates into 1.3 million potentially unstable DG containers travelling around the world each year.



Mr Storrs-Fox said this scale of risk is elevated when undeclared or misdeclared DG consignments are considered.



'In these cases an estimate of volumes is more obscure. An indication has been given through the work of one container carrier, Hapag-Lloyd, developing a profiling algorithm to search its booking system for potential misdeclaration of commodities,' he said.



'Results from Cargo Patrol, when extrapolated to the carryings of all the lines, concludes a reasonable estimate in excess of 150,000 volatile containers in the supply chain each year,' said Mr Storrs-Fox.



The Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), in which many of the top lines participate, has been active for a number of years and has successfully identified a number of commodities that commonly cause problems.



TT Club has additionally promoted, together with UK P&I Club and Exis Technologies, the Hazcheck Restrictions Portal, which is designed to identify and streamline the complexity of regulations and protocols imposed by carriers and ports around the world in relation to transporting declared dangerous goods.


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