HCB : Can additional IMDG restrictions increase risks?

We received the below note this morning from HCB in HCB Newsletter 19 August :

Message from the Editor

Shippers have faced a lot of problems this year in the ocean freight sector, with port closures, vessel cancellations, extravagant rates and general uncertainty. But those in the dangerous goods world are facing a raft of new restrictions that makes life even more problematic.

Over the past two weeks we have heard of two lines (HMM and Zim) introducing new restrictions on lithium batteries and MSC has put in additional requirements for stabilised cargo. Now APM Terminals has announced a ban on dangerous goods at its container terminal on Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte II. 

While it is easy to understand that the liner operators and terminals are dealing with unprecedented levels of demand, there is also a suspicion that they are taking the opportunity to deter dangerous goods shippers – after all, they are making very good money right now and DG surcharges are small change in comparison.

But – as we have seen before – additional restrictions on dangerous goods can encourage some shippers to hide them through non-declaration, which will save them money and free up their supply chain, but inserts additional and unknowable hazards into that chain, with risks to ships, crew and the environment.[ed – emphasis added] Let us hope that this is only a temporary action by those concerned.

It’s a viewpoint that might make you sit and consider, do increased freight rates on container vessels lead to increased risks from IMDG cargo?  As we have seen with incidents such as the fire and loss of X-Press Pearl off Sri Lanka, even declared IMDG cargo can lead to serious, serious issues.  Let’s hope we, as an industry, are able to mitigate these possible new risks regarding them.

Let’s be safe out there!

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