Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (non-hazardous) is as a Group C cargo in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. After the accidents involving the MV Purple Beach in 2015 and MV Cheshire in 2017, the accident investigation reports indicated the need for further examination of the properties of this cargo, to ensure its safe carriage and to address awareness of the risks.

According to the Guidance for sea transport of Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizers by the Organization Fertilizers Europe, the safety principles for this cargo are the following:

  1. Avoidance of storage of combustible substances near fertilizers.
  2. Avoidance of storage of incompatible substances near fertilizers.
  3. Avoidance of cross contamination with remains of previous cargoes.
  4. Avoidance of cross contamination of next cargo with fertilizer.
  5. Avoidance of sources of heat likely to affect the fertilizer.
  6. Avoidance of application of heat (e.g. welding) to any section which may have trapped/confined fertilizer.

Seafarers must also be aware of the decomposition process to allow it to be identified at an early stage. Regular monitoring of the cargo throughout the voyage is important to detect beginning of decomposition.

If Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer is heated strongly, it may decompose and release toxic gases. Timely opening of cargo hatches can prevent the build-up of pressure and help cool the cargo, stopping the development of cargo decomposition.

In case of decomposition or fire involving this cargo, the following procedures are suggested:

  • Provide maximum ventilation to remove the gases resulting from decomposition. These gases may include toxic fumes of ammonia and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur.
  • Wear, as necessary, protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus.
  • Application of water is most effective where injection pipes are used to deliver water to hot spots. Water spraying may not be sufficient to control the
  • Flooding of the cargo space may be considered, giving due consideration to the ship's stability and structural strength.
  • The ship's gas firefighting installation will be ineffective.

For more information regarding carriage of Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer, click in the PDF herebelow