DG Shipping advises stakeholders to “strictly comply” with IMDG Code while handling dangerous goods
India’s maritime administration has advised ports, ships, Customs, warehouses, master of vessels, seafarers, stevedores and transporters to “strictly comply” with the provisions of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) while handling dangerous goods or hazardous materials.
The advisory follows the August 4 explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon that was reportedly caused by the detonation of dangerous goods (ammonium nitrate) which had been stored at the dock since it was offloaded from a cargo ship, leaving more than 70 dead and thousands injured.
Incidents involving dangerous goods may not remain limited to a small area and can have a wide-ranging impact including on vessels, ports and its surrounding areas. To avoid such occurrences during the preparation, storage, handling and shipment of dangerous goods, all stake holders including ships, ports, customs, warehouses, master of vessels, seafarers, stevedores and transporters are advised to strictly comply with the provisions of the IMDG Code including its supplement containing the EmS Guide and Medical First Aid Guide for all cargoes listed as dangerous goods, the Directorate General of Shipping said in an advisory.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) provides for the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged and bulk forms on ships. The detailed provisions and guidelines for the safe preparation, storage, and handling of transportation and shipment of dangerous goods or hazardous materials are outlined in the IMDG Code.
International regulations prohibit the handling of dangerous goods except under the provisions of the IMDG Code. Also, the provisions of the SOLAS and IMDG Code requires the issuance of instructions on emergency response procedures and medical first aid relevant to incidents involving dangerous goods taking into account the guidelines developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“The provisions of the IMDG Code for the safe preparation, storage, handling and shipment of dangerous goods need to be strictly adhered to by all stakeholders (ships, ports, shippers, stevedores and transport operators) in order to ensure no incidents occur while dealing with dangerous goods on board ships and in ports,” the DG Shipping wrote in the advisory issued on Friday.
Non-compliance with the provisions of IMDG Code onboard ships or ashore including at warehouses could lead to devastating consequences on ships, ports and to its vicinity, it said.
The tragedy at Beirut highlights what happens when dangerous goods are not stored with care, as the explosion is reported to have torn through the city, registering a force as strong as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake with some of the residents claiming that the scenes looked “like an apocalypse” and that the port was “totally destroyed”.
An earlier incident involving dangerous goods at a container storage station in the Port of Tianjin, China on August 12, 2015 triggered a series of explosions resulting in the loss of lives of a large number of people and injured hundreds of others. Reports indicated that fire caused by the initial explosions continued to burn uncontrolled resulting in additional explosions on subsequent dates.
An even earlier incident involving dangerous goods at the Port of Texas City, Texas, at Galveston Bay, the USA on April 16, 1947, resulted in a fire on board the vessel SS Grandcamp and detonation of her cargo of dangerous goods, which started a chain reaction of fires and explosions in other ships and nearby oil storage facilities leading to the loss of a large number of lives and damage to vessels and property.
Source: The Hindu Business Line