Statutory alert: Carriage of ammonium nitrate based fertilizer (non-hazardous)
Applicability: All shipowners and operators involved in the carriage of solid bulk cargoes
Ammonium nitrate based fertilizer (non-hazardous) is classified as a Group C cargo (cargoes that are neither liable to liquefy nor to possess chemical hazards) in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. This cargo, however, has the potential to decompose when heated strongly, producing toxic gases.
The IMO recently published guidance in circular CCC.1/Circ.4 on the carriage of ammonium nitrate based fertilizer (non-hazardous), to raise awareness of the decomposition process and the actions to be taken in the event of a fire. During recent accidents, highly toxic gas clouds were produced, which were large enough to envelop the ship and cover the surrounding sea area; these are circumstances that could put at risk the safe abandonment of the ship and hinder rescue and firefighting efforts.
Further investigation on the properties of ammonium nitrate based fertilizer (non-hazardous) is in progress. In the meantime, CCC.1/Circ.4 draws attention to the decomposition hazard, existing even for cargoes that have passed the prescribed tests, and reminds shipowners and operators of the necessary precautions and emergency procedures to be considered for these fertilizers (see the relevant individual schedule in Appendix 1 of the IMSBC Code).
The extreme caution of all parties involved in the carriage of such cargoes is required.
Guidance on carrying solid bulk cargoes safely
Lloyd’s Register, the UK P&I Club and Intercargo have produced a pocket guide for ship officers and agents who arrange cargoes for loading.
This pocket guide outlines the precautions to be taken before accepting solid bulk cargoes for shipment; sets out procedures for safe loading and carriage; details the primary hazards associated with different types of cargo; and underlines the importance of proper cargo declarations. A quick reference checklist and flowchart summarise the steps to be followed.
A PDF of both the pocket guide and flowchart can be downloaded at www.lr.org/imsbc.