The Dangers of Delayed and Abandoned Cargo

Screenshot of webinar on abandoned cargoes

Delayed and abandoned cargo poses serious risks in the supply chain, especially when hazardous materials are involved. With recent incidents highlighting these dangers, it is crucial to examine the issues and potential solutions.

The Flaminia Incident

In 2012, the chemical tanker Flaminia caught fire and exploded off the coast of France, resulting in several casualties. The explosion was traced to divinylbenzene (DVB), a stabilised hazardous material that had autopolymerised.

The DVB was meant to be stabilised to prevent such reactions. However, failures in disclosing handling requirements and improper storage in New Orleans port likely caused destabilisation. This emphasises the need for robust hazard communication between shippers and carriers.

Stabilised Cargoes in the IMDG Code

The IMDG Code allows stabilised hazardous materials to be transported if properly inhibited. Certain cargoes prone to polymerisation can be stabilised by packaging, temperature controls, chemical inhibitors, or unspecified "other measures."

While general guidelines exist, the Code does not actually require shippers to disclose details like cargo's self-accelerating polymerisation temperature (SAPT), specific inhibitors used, or operational handling requirements to maintain stabilisation.

A new IMDG Code provision better defines stabilised transport requirements. However, it still does not mandate hazard communication to carriers regarding stabilisation methods and transport conditions necessary to prevent incidents like Flaminia.

Impacts of Supply Chain Delays

With recent supply chain disruptions, there are heightened risks of stabilised cargoes exceeding anticipated transit times and temperatures, potentially compromising stabilisation. Without transparency from shippers on SAPT and handling, carriers cannot ensure proper stowage, monitoring, and emergency response.


Updating regulations to improve hazard communication could better equip carriers to collaborate with shippers, detect issues, and mitigate risks. Enhanced cooperation and communication among all supply chain parties is key to tackling challenges like delayed and abandoned cargo.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director