IMO issues warning on sea transport of Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (non-hazardous)

Overview

IMO issues warning on the dangers of carrying ammonium nitrate based fertilizers (non-hazardous) in bulk and advises on safety precautions for safe carriage.

During the 4th meeting of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Sub-committee on the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 4), discussion was held on the carriage of ammonium nitrate based fertilzers that were non-hazardous following the recent incident of mv Cheshire and an earlier incident involving mv Purple Beach (2015).  Though investigation on these incidents is still pending, CCC 4 was of the view that an IMO-CCC circular (CCC.1/circ.4) should be issued to warn the shipping industry on the dangers of carrying ammonium nitrate based fertilisers that are non-hazardous. 

The biggest hazard surrounding these cargoes is their potential to undergo decomposition and it is vitally important that early decomposition can be identified at an early stage. Otherwise the cargo in the cargo holds can reach extreme high temperature even in excess of 500 deg. celsius, leading to fire situations and release of toxic gases which include ammonia fumes and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. Notwithstanding that these cargoes are classified as Group C cargoes ( they neither liquefy nor possess chemical hazards) under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes ( IMSBC ) Code, it was reported that some fertilizers under this group despite passing the prescribed tests, still show potential to undergo decompostion.

The IMO has in the said circular, laid out some safety priniciples for this cargo based on the guidance issued by the Organization Fertilizers Europe and advice on how the crew should handle the cargo in scenarios where the cargo has decomposed or in a fire situation.

The IMO also reminded that the carriage requirements stipulated in the IMSBC Code for this cargo must be followed. Please go to our online BIMCO Cargo Database on ammonium nitrate based fertilzers (non-hazardous) for these carriage requirements. 

Members are to be guided accordingly.

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Ai Cheng Foo-Nielsen
in Copenhagen, DK

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