TT Talk - IMDG Code Amendment 36-12 has become mandatory

  • Date: 31/12/2013
  • Source: TT Talk 183

Anecdotal information suggests that some in the maritime supply chain are using out of date dangerous goods data. Inspections evidence that non-compliance continues to be too high. Incidents demonstrate the results. TT Club recommends a New Year resolution: implement the new IMDG amendment and ensure that goods are properly classified, marked, packed and declared.

The IMDG Code follows a two year cycle of amendments and enforcement. The latest Amendment (36-12) was adopted by the Maritime Safety Council (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at its 90th session in London in May 2012.

It could be applied on a voluntary basis from 1 January 2013 and the key changes in this amendment were outlined in TT Talk 167 issued in December 2012. This Amendment of the Code became mandatory from 1 January 2014 and will remain so until 1 January 2016.

“Amendment 36-12 of the IMDG Code became mandatory from 1 January 2014 and will remain so until 1 January 2016”

The review continues
The work on the next amendment (37-14) is already well advanced, under the control of the relevant IMO sub-committee of the MSC, historically known as Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC), now re-organised into Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC).

This sub-committee meets at least once a year, usually in September, and has to consider sometimes hundreds of submissions from member states and organisations in consultative status. These latter comprise many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) as diverse as ICHCA International – of whom TT Club are members and regular participants with the ICHCA delegation – to the International Paint & Printing Ink Council, through organisations such as Greenpeace and the Institute of International Container Lessors.

Amendment 37-14, if all goes to plan will be adopted by MSC in May 2014 and will be available to be applied on a voluntary basis from January 2015.

Aiming at harmonisation
Many delegations to IMO have been working on harmonisation across the intermodal supply chain and bringing the various modal Regulations closer together. Everything stems from the UN’s ‘Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods’ (known as the Orange Book) as developed by the renamed ‘Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals’.

Inevitably, the risk factors relating to dangerous goods differ through the intermodal supply chain. As a result, some variance in the regulations can be expected. However, difficulties can arise at the point of interface between the Codes for each form of transport (such as IMDG for sea, ADR for road, RID for rail, ADN for European Waterways and IATA DGR for air) where specific requirements have been developed for certain goods. Now however there are renewed efforts to move towards the ‘harmonisation’ that the UN envisaged and every session of DSC (now CCC) sees papers on this subject. In fact, many of the detailed changes that come with each Amendment that is issued arise because of this harmonisation.

“Difficulties can arise at the point of interface between the Codes for each form of transport where specific requirements have been developed for certain goods”

Identifying non-compliance
In terms of non-compliance with the IMDG Code there have been renewed calls, notably from International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) for national Competent Authorities to make use of their ability to report serious infringements back to IMO and other authorities and share information on non-declared or mis-declared dangerous goods between each other. ICS has been asked to present concrete proposals to the first meeting of CCC in September this year.

Of course this is also something that is increasingly being reported through the CINS-net programme and offers useful advice and trends on dangerous goods incidents to shippers and carriers in membership.

Annual reporting from the 170 or so national Competent Authorities to IMO over the last decade has frankly been disappointing given concerns over the high incidence of non-compliance observed through accidents and incident reporting initiatives, such as the liner operators’ Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS). At the IMO committee meeting in September 2013, only seven reports were made, in respect of just over 70,000 containers – far less than 0.1% of laden movements. And the findings are hardly comforting… on average over the last decade more than 15% of the inspections have found deficiencies. Of these, over the same period, 36% related to ‘placarding and marking’ (the visual alert to danger) and 21%, significantly, to ‘securing and stowage inside the unit’.

The uncomfortable reality is that most of these ‘IMO’ inspections are on containers declared to be packed with dangerous goods. Ship casualties arising from explosions and fires over the same period have commonly established that cargoes not declared as dangerous caused or exacerbated the loss. It is generally accepted that declared dangerous goods shipments comprise about 10% of all container movements; combining the non-compliance from inspected dangerous goods movements with non-declared shipments paints a disturbing picture.

“Ship casualties arising from explosions and fires have commonly established that cargoes not declared as dangerous caused or exacerbated the loss”

The importance of effective packing
Indeed, the CINS initiative has reported that over 80% of incidents relate to cargo that is dangerous, and 25% are caused by mis-declaration and a further 35% relate to poor or incorrect packing. The liner carrier membership of the CINS Organisation accounts for about 60% of maritime container movements (source: Alphaliner). While the database is in its infancy, the ability to identify trends and provide alerts to emerging risks is already compelling. The incidents over the last twelve months fully justify this safety-based collaboration.

It is clear that the IMDG Code alone will not address these continuing issues of non-compliance and the recently concluded work on the revised ILO/IMO/UNECE Code of Practice on Packing of CTUs will help if it can be successfully promulgated in an easy to understand format to provide good practice guidance to all packers and shippers. Equally, every party involved in the logistics supply chain will need to be aware of their responsibilities for their portion in the flow of goods.

We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox
Risk Management Director, TT Club

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