The Gard recently informed that even if it may be impossible for crew to estimate the particle size of the cargo carried, the crew can watch out for signs of high moisture content with the aim to ensure safety.
In fact, Appendix 3, Art 2 of the IMSBC Code states that “many fine particle cargoes, if possessing a sufficiently high moisture content are liable to flow”.
Whatsoever, the Gard informs that the threshold for fine particle is not defined in the Code, although it mentions particle size distribution in the schedule for individual cargoes.
It is said that there are two main concerns for seafarers relating to liquefaction.
- The fine particle size of the cargo and
- The high moisture content, i.e. the moisture content is higher than the cargo’s transportable moisture limit (TML).
However, it may not be practical for the ship’s crew to estimate the particle size of the cargo being loaded and to compare it with its IMSBC schedule. What is practical is the visual tell-tale signs of excessive moisture.
Guard informs that
As rudimentary as our recommendations on can tests and looking out for cargo splatter sounds, a vigilant crew can or could have saved several lives.
To reduce the risk of loading cargo with an excessive moisture content, shipowners, managers and crew can take some precautionary measures such as:
- Ensure documents on moisture content provided by the shipper is authentic. Inaccurate declarations and certificates from shippers still appear to be at the heart of the problem.
- Request moisture content (MC) to be tested again if there is any suspicion.
- Check the stock piles, though this may be difficult in many ports.
- Appoint surveyors during loading.
- Take advice from cargo experts.
Namely, proper and timely liquid cargo sampling is one of the most important tasks for the crew members on vessels to prevent cargo contamination and exposure to relevant claims. Thus, Skuld has previously provided its insights on sampling of liquid cargoes, focusing on safety precautions prior to sampling; on sampling equipment as well as on the key locations on sampling onboard a vessel.
A challenging issue that the industry has to cope with is the contamination of the cargo, as liquid cargoes onboard vessels are exposed to influences such as temperature change, contact with air, light, pollutant, or other products. Moreover, the contamination can also occur from failure in the production process and exposure to external substances from shore tanks and shore lines, as well as remnants of previous cargoes or wash water onboard the vessel.
Usually, the sampling process is conducted from the company’s perspective and interests. Thus, crewmembers are responsible for collecting their own samples to protect the vessel’s interests. Timely and proper sampling of liquid cargoes is essential of the vessel management team to observe.
Some safety precautions before sampling can include the following:
(a) Prior to conducting the procedure, the crewmembers should familiarise themselves with the specific nature and associated hazards of the liquid cargoes for carriage, by carefully studying the information available on the Material Safety Data Sheet (the MSDS), which is provided to the captain from the shippers prior to the operation.
(b) Crewmembers should also wear minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as goggles, chemical resistant gloves, boiler suits and shoes when drawing samples. Filter masks, breathing apparatus and chemical resistant suits may be required, depending on the cargo to be sampled.
(c) The crew should consult the company’s Safety Management System (the SMS) for further instructions prior to sampling.