Checking against coal cargo fires (Editorial: 9th June)

The Club has published a

checklist and guide

to avoiding fires when carrying Indonesian coal cargoes in bulk. It is an 'aide memoire' for the guidance of shippers, shipowners, charterers, surveyors, ships' crews and other parties involved in the loading and carriage of cargoes of coal.

Self-heating incidents involving coal cargoes loaded at Indonesian ports have become increasingly frequent in recent years. The problem appears to stem from the nature of these coals, possibly exacerbated by local handling loading.

The checklist focuses specifically on the potential hazard of self-heating. The full recommendations for the safe carriage of coal are found in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code or 'the Code'). This took effect on the 1st January this year.

Appendix 1 of the Code contains a schedule of recommendations for handling and transporting different coal cargoes, distinguished by their Bulk Cargo Shipping Name (BCSN). Coal cargoes are classified as material hazardous in bulk (MHB). If Group B they possess a chemical hazard such as oxygen depletion or creating flammable atmospheres. If defined as Group A they may liquefy if shipped with moisture contents greater than their transportable moisture limit.

The checklist is organised to reflect these IMSBC Code requirements. For the period prior to loading it addresses documentation (IMSBC Code section 4)and hold preparation (IMSBC Coal schedule and Appendix). Ship instrumentation and temperature monitoring sections cover the potential presence of gases, acidity in bilge water and the presence of any cargo heating.

Temperature monitoring continues through the loading process as well as preventing excessive ventilation and aeration of the cargo. Once the voyage is underway the checklist assists with procedures on monitoring the condition of the cargo, particularly self-heating and the presence of flammable gas.

We are mailing copies of the checklist to Members this week. Further copies can be obtained either by downloading from the Loss Prevention section of this website, or by contacting our Loss Prevention department.

A specialist edition of Carefully to Carry, relating to the carriage of coal is here in the Loss Prevention section of our site.

Staff Author