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Dangerous cargo handling safe procedure for container ships

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code lists over 3000 hazardous substances. Goods can be categorized as dangerous for any of the following reasons: The environmental aspect is the most frequently quoted when cargoes are classified as hazardous or noxious.

Procedures and guidelines for stowage and segregation of dangerous cargo, shall be adhered to additionally:

1) Every dangerous cargo shipment shall be made in line with IMO policy and be accompanied by required documentation. DG cargo with restricted/prohibited UN numbers shall not be accepted for shipment unless under special circumstance express permission is obtained from the company.

2) All DG containers must be checked for proper label/placard as required by the IMDG code. A stock of spare labels/placards must be kept on board.

3) DG containers must be checked for condition prior loading and leaking or damaged containers posing a hazard, shall be rejected.

containerized  dangerous goods need special care while underway

4) It must be ensured that all DG containers are loaded in the planned stow position. Any discrepancies shall be brought to the notice of the Terminal planner / Central planner and / or local agent as required.
The final condition may be accepted only if meeting all stowage and segregation requirements; else it must be corrected by discharging / shifting concerned container(s).

5) The requisite day/night signals for vessels carrying / loading / discharging dangerous cargo shall be displayed.

6) When handling/carrying dangerous cargo on board smoking shall strictly not be allowed other than in designated smoking areas. Signs/placards shall be appropriately displayed at gangway and on deck.

7) Location and properties of dangerous cargo shall be considered when carrying out any special work on board such as hot work etc.

Obtain container packing certificate: Certificate indicating correct loading of a dangerous goods container and the observance of the regulations set out in the IMDG Code (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code). The container packing certificate is issued by the person responsible for packing the container.

8) Other precautions shall be taken when handling dangerous cargo shipments as warranted by good seamanship, SOLAS, MARPOL, IMDG code, local and national regulations.

9) Further guidance for handling D.G cargo is contained in IMDG Code vol 1, 2 & supplement.

DG stowage : Particular caution is to be exercised when stowing dangerous cargo on board the vessel. Any dangerous cargo presented for loading must be accompanied by a proper manifest and declaration as required by international regulations . Further this DG cargo must be acceptable for carriage as per IMDG code guidance. Reference here is made to the list of UN numbers restricted/prohibited for carriage on board particular vessels.

After confirming acceptability of the DG cargo, the plan must be checked for proper stowage and segregation. Although terminal and central planners should provide proper stow of DG cargo, the final responsibility always lies with the Master.

Reference shall be made to vessels Document of Compliance with special requirements for ships carrying dangerous goods for confirming that proposed DG classes are acceptable for stowage in planned locations on board.

container ship cargo stowage

Specific stowage requirements for DG cargo
(e.g. Clear of living quarters OR if under deck, in a mechanically ventilated space etc) may be verified from individual entries of dangerous goods list in the IMDG code.

DG segregation shall be verified for compliance with requirements of the IMDG code. Caution must be exercised when using vessels stowage planning software for this purpose as it may or may not have comprehensive means of checking for bad stowage & segregation against the latest international requirements. It is advisable to manually check for compliance.

Segregation requirements of the IMDG code and any other local/national regulations must be strictly adhered to.
One must be aware that even DG cargoes belonging to the same class may have segregation requirements amongst them.

A good example is that of alkalis requiring to be separated form acids where as both acids and alkalis may belong to IMO Class 8. Such segregation requirement will not be found in the segregation tables of the IMDG code and only individual entries of the dangerous goods list in the code indicate the requirement.

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