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London P&I Club has analysed the problems associated with the transportation of coal in bulk, such as self-heating and flammable gas (i.e. methane) release. Self-heating can lead to fires and the production of carbon monoxide (CO), whilst methane release can lead to an explosive atmosphere being generated in the hold.
Self-heating normally occurs in localised hot spots within a bulk cargo, and temperature measurements are unlikely to identify problems. However, when coal self-heats it produces CO, so measuring the concentration of CO is the most effective method to identify a self-heating cargo.
The atmosphere in each cargo hold should be monitored, at least on a daily basis, for CO, hydrogen sulphide (H2 S), oxygen (O2) and flammable gas (LEL-methane). If the holds are being ventilated, then ventilation should be stopped at least Continue reading “Preventing coal cargo from self-heating”
The UK P&I Club has published helpful guidance to ensure safe bunkering operations. The Club said that bunkering operations are routine and critical, high risk operations which require to be carefully planned and performed.
Causes of bunker spills
Although the most of the bunker transfers are carried out without incident, very occasionally, things can and do go wrong. The UK Club notes that only a minority of cases do bunker spills occur because of failure of the hoses or pipelines, while the majority of spills result from a tank overflowing.
But these are not the only causes. Common causes of bunker spills can be summarised as follows:
In the aftermath of the major fire that killed five crew members onboard the ‘Maersk Honam’ in March 2018, Danish container ship giant Maersk has conducted a thorough review of their current safety practices and policies with reference to the stowage of dangerous cargo. Consequently, Maersk has now announced the implementation of new guidelines to improve safety across its container vessel fleet.
On 6 March 2018, the container ship ‘Maersk Honam’ suffered a serious fire in its cargo hold where dangerous goods were carried, but up to this time, there is no evidence to suggest that dangerous goods caused the fire, the company noted. In addition, all cargo was accepted as per the requirements of the IMDG Code and stowed onboard the vessel accordingly.
Following the tragic incident, Maersk took measures and implemented additional preliminary guidelines for stowage of dangerous goods. The company evaluated over 3,000 UN numbers of hazardous materials in order to further understand and improve dangerous cargo stowage onboard container vessels and developed a new set of principles called ‘Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage’.
According to TT Club, container fires are a far more regular occurrence than most people would realise. Statistics show there is a major container cargo fire at sea roughly every 60 days. So, tackling fires and subsequent investigations are complex and vitally important activities.
With increasing container ships size increases the risk of a fire incident increases too. Despite some regulatory and technical advances, the fact is that the ability to respond to a cargo-related fire at sea has not progressed as needed in recent times.
To tackle a fire in a hold, TT Club notes a CO2 system will be installed if the ship is carrying dangerous goods. The gas released from a CO2 system can displace the oxygen in the hold and smother the fire. However, for CO2 to be effective, the hold must be closed to retain the gas and prevent oxygen ingress.
If an incident has taken place in a container stowed on deck, water will be the only option available . Nevertheless, it is unlikely to extinguish a fire inside a container in the short term.
The West of England P&I Club has warned operators and others involved of the dangers of carrying nickel ore. Carrying nickel ore can be dangerous, because of the risk of liquefaction of the cargo on passage when the moisture content is higher than the cargo’s Flow Moisture Point (FMP).
After a number of ships being lost, with liquefaction of their nickel ore cargoes suspected of being the cause, the West of England Club published a Notice some years ago addressing the Dangers of Carrying Nickel ore. This Notice is still in forced and was re-issued as No.13 2017/2018 – Dangers of Carrying Nickel Ore from Indonesia and the Philippines – Mandatory Notification Requirements (re-issued).
The Club reminds operators of the risk of liquefaction with this cargo, as showcased by the loss of the ‘Emerald Star’, which claimed the lives of 11 seafarers in October 2017.