TT Talk - Packaged Dangerous Goods - report from IMO Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers sub-committee (DSC)
Mike Compton of ICHCA International reports on the IMO sub-committee meeting, which took place 17-21 September 2007. Most of the IMDG Code has been mandatory since 1 January 2004. However, one small part is not and that is concerned with shoreside training of those persons who are involved in any way with the generation of packaged dangerous goods to the port and the ship. Similar training for ships' crews is mandatory but the reasoning for the difference is that IMO's remit does not extend ashore beyond the immediate ship/shore interface.
However, the continuing procession of major disasters at sea arising from packaged dangerous goods, the continuing reports of maritime administrations showing substantial non compliance with the IMDG Code and the views of those involved in the handling and carriage has prompted a rethink. As a result, the UK delegation had submitted a paper proposing that this provision of the Code be made mandatory and it was supported by a paper from ICHCA International.
Furthermore, the UK delegation organised a presentation during a lunchtime slot given jointly by Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT's Risk Management Director, and John Leach of Maersk Line strongly supporting the need for this change based on operational and loss experience. Happily, many delegations spoke in support of the UK proposal, including major flag states and those representing the carriers, the cargo handlers and the insurance world as well as just about every NGO that had anything to do with Dangerous Goods. As a consequence of this overwhelming support for the proposal, it will now be referred to IMO MSC/84 in May 2008. Assuming the proposal is being approved by IMO MSC approves the proposal, it will form part of Amendment 34 and will come into mandatory force on 1 January 2010.
This is clearly an important milestone and the TT Club urges liner operators to lobby the flag states of their fleets to ensure support in May 2008. Just the week before there were press reports that 'Zim Haifa' suffered a fire and explosion in June 2007 arising from Dangerous Goods cargo allegedly declared as harmless.
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In a week during which yet another cargo-related containership fire took place, it is timely to draw attention to on-going industry developments to improve controls in the carriage of dangerous goods by sea.