News 22 Nov, 2011

SOLAS - Amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code

On 20 May 2011, the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO’s) Maritime Safety Committee at its eighty-ninth session adopted Resolution MSC.(318)89 regarding amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. Contracting governments may apply the new requirements, in whole or in part, on a voluntary basis from 1 January 2012. Compliance with the amendments becomes mandatory on 1 January 2013.

As a result of changes in world trade, new solid bulk cargoes with their own particular hazards are often introduced and presented for shipment. Similarly, some cargoes that were previously only shipped in very limited quantities and were not included in the IMSBC Code are now carried more extensively. At the same time, expert understanding of the properties and hazards associated with established solid bulk cargoes and the safest means of handling and carrying such cargoes is continually being advanced. Therefore to keep pace with developments the IMSBC Code will in future be updated bi-annually.

Amendment 01-11, which is the first amendment to the IMSBC Code since it became mandatory, follows a review of numerous submissions to IMO by the sub-committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Bulk Cargoes and Containers (DSC). The principal changes are summarised below: 

-      The schedules for Ammonium Nitrate UN 1942, Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer UN 2067, Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer UN 2071 and Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (non-hazardous), have been amended to state that during discharge operations: “Bunkering of fuel oil shall not be allowed. Pumping of fuel oil in spaces adjacent to the cargo spaces for this cargo, other than the engine room, shall not be allowed.

-      The hazards associated with Brown Coal Briquettes have been amended to state that the cargo is liable to heat spontaneously, in addition to being easily ignited, igniting spontaneously, and possibly depleting the oxygen level in a cargo space.

-      When carrying Ferrophosphorus (including briquettes), suitable gas detectors are to be provided on board for the measurement of flammable and toxic gases during the voyage.

-      Due to the extremely high density of Ferrosilicon (with 25% to 30% silicon, or 90% or more silicon), additional guidance on the need to ensure that tanktops are not overstressed has been added to the schedule.

-      The applicability of the schedule for Seed Cake (b) UN 1386 has been clarified by the inclusion of the statement: “The provisions of this schedule should also not apply to mechanically expelled citrus pulp pellets containing not more than 2.5% oil and 14% oil and moisture combined”. The carriage of expelled citrus pulp pellets is covered by the schedule for Seed Cake (non-hazardous) which has been amended accordingly: “The provisions of this schedule also apply to mechanically expelled citrus pulp pellets containing not more than 2.5% oil and 14% oil and moisture combined”.

-      In a number of schedules, references to the “Competent Authority” have been replaced with the word “Administration” regarding the verification of the gas tightness of bulkheads and the safety of the cargo hold bilge pumping arrangements. The change has been introduced as the permanent nature of these structures means they fall under the ambit of the flag state and would be verified by the Administration at the building stage or during modification, rather than by a Competent Authority prior to loading.

-      Many of the schedules covering nitrate cargoes have been amended to include a warning under the “Precautions” section advising that “The master and officers are to note that the ship’s fixed gas fire-fighting installation will be ineffective on fires involving this cargo and that applying copious amounts of water may be necessary.”

-      Nineteen cargo schedules now include additional guidance advising that the material is “hygroscopic and may cake in overhangs, impairing safety during discharge”.

-      In addition to changes to existing schedules, a number of new cargo schedules have been added: 

  • Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS), classified as a Group C cargo.
  • Ferrous Sulphate Heptahydrate, classified as a Group C cargo.
  • Fly Ash, Wet, classified as a Group A cargo. The existing schedule has been renamed Fly Ash, Dry.
  • Granular Ferrous Sulphate, classified as a Group C cargo.
  • Magnesium Sulphate Fertilizers, classified as a Group C cargo.
  • Wood Products General (Logs, Timber, Saw Logs, Pulp Wood, Roundwood), classified as a Group B cargo due to the risk of oxygen depletion and an increase in carbon dioxide in cargo spaces containing wood products. 

-     The schedule for Wood Pulp Pellets has been deleted from the Code.

-     In Appendix 3, Castor Beans and Sodium Nitrate have been removed from the list of cargoes that are non-cohesive when dry, and the following cargoes have been added to the list: 

  • Granular Ferrous Sulphate
  • Magnesium Sulphate Fertilizers
  • Tapioca
  • Wood Pellets

Members are advised to ensure that their vessels comply with the new IMSBC Code requirements from 1 January 2013, or earlier if required by the vessel’s flag state.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.