On 4 December 2008, by Resolution MSC.268(85), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted new regulations for the carriage of solid bulk cargoes. The new code, the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code - hereafter called the IMSBC Code - will supersede the existing Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes - hereafter called the BC Code.
Owners have been able to apply the IMSBC Code on a voluntary basis since 2009-01-01 and will become mandatory for all ships carrying solid bulk cargoes, without any transitional period, on 2011-01-01 when amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) enter into force.
All ships carrying solid bulk cargoes in general and dangerous solid bulk cargoes in particular will be required to comply with the new IMSBC Code, irrespective of their keel-laying date or gross tonnage.
Owners must be aware that Port State Controls and the Port Authorities of a number of major trading nations require proof of compliance with the BC Code or the IMSBC Code, i.e. that a valid "Document of Compliance for the Carriage of Dangerous Solid Bulk Cargoes" is available on board.
Operators should also remember the existing requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) applicable to cargo ships of 500 GRT or over that are constructed on or after 1984-09-01 and to cargo ships of less than 500 GRT that are constructed on or after 1992-02-01. Specific requirements concerning the carriage of dangerous goods, both in solid bulk form and as packaged goods, in addition to the goods stated in the IMSBC Code are stipulated in the SOLAS Convention: Ref. SOLAS Reg.II-2/19 and SOLAS Ch. VII - some of which are mentioned below.
The IMSBC Code and its content
The format of the IMSBC Code is similar to that of the existing BC Code. Like the BC Code, the IMSBC Code categorises cargoes into three groups - A, B and C:
Group A consist of the cargoes which may liquefy if shipped with moisture content in excess of their transportable moisture limit.
Group B consists of cargoes which possess a chemical hazard which could give rise to a dangerous situation on a ship.
Group C consists of cargoes which are not liable to liquefy (Group A) and do not possess chemical hazards (Group B).
Detailed requirements relating to each type of cargo are stated in the Code's individual schedules.
The IMSBC Code contains some new schedules:
Chopped rubber and plastic insulation: Characterised as a Group C cargo and described as "Plastic and rubber insulation material, clean and free from other materials, in granular form."
Coarse chopped tyres: Characterised as a Group C cargo and described as "Chopped or shredded fragments of used tyres in coarse size."
Direct reduced iron (C) (by-products fines): Characterised as a Group B cargo and therefore dangerous. Described as "A porous, black/grey metallic material generated as a by-product in the manufacturing and handling processes of Direct Reduced Iron (A) Briquettes, hot moulded and/or Direct Reduced Iron (B) Lumps, pellets, cold-moulded briquettes. The density of DRI (C) is less than 5 000 kg/m3."
Granulated tyre rubber: Characterised as a Group C cargo and described as "Fragmented rubber tyre material cleaned and free from other materials."
Linted cotton seed: Characterised as a Group B cargo and therefore dangerous. Described as "Cottonseed with short cotton fibres adhering to the kernel after approximately 90Ð98% of the cotton have been removed by machine."
Sulphur (formed, solid): Characterised as a Group C cargo and described as: "A co-product recovered from sour gas processing or oil refinery operations that have been subjected to a forming process that converts sulphur from a molten state into specific solid shapes (e.g. prills, granules, pellets, pastilles or flakes). It is bright yellow in colour and odourless." It is important to note that this schedule is NOT applicable to crushed, lump and coarse-grained sulphur. For sulphur in this condition, the schedule Sulphur UN 1350 (crushed lump and coarse grained), which is characterised as a Group B cargo, is to be used.
We would also like to draw your attention to some of the schedules and some special items:
Aluminium smelting by-products or Aluminium remelting by-products, UN 3170: The ventilation requirements have been changed. Continuous mechanical ventilation is now required for this cargo. This means that the Load Line Convention must be fulfilled which again means that the height from the freeboard deck to the ventilation openings must be at least 4.5 metres.
Brown coal briquettes and Coal: The Code states that "the master shall ensure that these cargoes are not to be stowed adjacent to hot areas". This statement is rather vague taking into account its importance and the fact that it is a statement in a code that will soon be mandatory.
The IMO recognised this and the issue were discussed by the subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC) at its 14th meeting in London at the end of September 2009.
The DSC has proposed the following interpretation of "adjacent to hot areas: Boundary areas of the cargo hold in contact with the cargo having a temperature consistently greater than 55 degr. C during carriage of the cargo, such as sometimes can be experienced when heated fuel oil service tanks and fuel oil settling tanks have a common boundary with the cargo hold.
And, as a result of this that:
Heated fuel oil tanks adjacent to cargo spaces carrying these cargoes should not normally be regarded as hot areas when the fuel oil temperature is controlled at less than 55 degr. C; this temperature is not exceeded for periods greater than 12 hours in any 24-hour period; and the maximum temperature of the fuel oil does not exceed 65 degr. C.
The above proposal has been forwarded to the Marine Safety Committee (MSC) to be discussed and possibly approved at MSC 87 on 12-21 May this year.
The schedule for Coal has been amended to also include references to the carriage of coal on gravity-fed self-unloaders.
Direct reduced iron (B) (Lumps, pellets, cold-moulded briquettes) and the new schedule Direct reduced iron (C) (By-product fines): Prior to loading, these two schedules require provisions to be made to introduce a dry, inert gas at tank top level so that the inert gas purges the air from the cargo and fills the free volume above. The ship must be provided with the means to ensure that the Code's requirement that the oxygen concentration must be kept below 5% can be achieved and maintained throughout the voyage. The ship's fixed CO2 fire-fighting system SHALL NOT be used for this purpose.
Seed cake, containing vegetable oil UN 1386 (b), Seed cake UN 2217 and Sulphur UN 1350 (crushed lump or coarse-grained): These cargoes require the ventilation openings to be equipped with "spark arresting screens". Due to the fact that DNV was the only classification society that distinguished between "spark arresting screens" and "wire mesh", we have now deregulated our requirement and decided that "suitable wire mesh" can be used instead of "spark arresting screens". A suitable wire mesh will be a mesh with openings that are a maximum of 13 x 13 mm.
Seed cake, containing vegetable oil UN 1386 (b) solvent extraction only and Seed cake UN 2217: According to SOLAS Reg. II-2/19, Table 19.2, Note 7 and Reg. II-22.214.171.124 these cargoes require "Adequate power ventilation in the enclosed cargo spaces. The arrangement shall be so that at least six air changes per hour are maintained, based on the volume of the empty cargo hold." In other words, these cargoes require continuous mechanical ventilation which again means that the Load Line Convention must be fulfilled and that the height from the freeboard deck to the ventilation openings must be at least 4.5 metres.
Some new sections have been added:
The new section 1.5: Containing information concerning tripartite agreements on the acceptance of exemptions from the IMSBC Code and the application of deviating measures compared to those required by the Code
The new section 11: Containing information concerning "Security provisions".
And finally, the added Supplement. In this Supplement you will find some IMO documents that are related to the IMSBC Code:
The BLU Code: The intention of the Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers is to provide guidance to masters of bulk carriers, terminal operators and other parties concerned with the safe handling, loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes. This code is also linked to SOLAS Reg. VI/7 - Loading, unloading and stowage of bulk cargoes, as amended.
The BLU Manual: The intention of the Manual on Loading and Unloading of Solid Bulk Cargoes for Terminal Representatives is to provide more detailed guidance to terminal representatives (as defined in the BLU Code) and others involved in the handling of solid bulk cargoes, including those responsible for the training of personnel.
MSC/Circ. 908 - Uniform Method of Measurement of the Density of Bulk Cargoes: This circular describes a method for measuring the density of bulk cargoes. Prior to loading bulk cargo on a bulk carrier, the shipper is required to declare the density of the cargo, which must be verified by an accredited testing organisation. Due to the need for a common method to measure the density of bulk cargo, the IMO adopted the performance specification for measuring the density of such cargoes set out in the annex of this circular.
MSC/Circ. 1146 - Lists of Solid Bulk Cargoes for which a Fixed Gas Fire-extinguishing System may be Exempted or for which a Fixed Gas Fire-extinguishing System is Ineffective: The annex of this circular contains two tables:
Table 1 is a list of solid bulk cargoes for which a fixed gas fire-extinguishing system may be exempted. This includes the cargoes listed in SOLAS Reg. II-2/10.7.1.4 and the cargoes listed in the IMSBC Code which are not combustible or constitute a low fire risk.
Table 2 is a list of solid bulk cargoes for which a fixed gas fire-extinguishing system is ineffective and for which a fire-extinguishing system giving equivalent protection must be available. A water spray/deluge system is typically used for these vessels.
Res. A. 864(20) - Recommendations for Entering Enclosed Spaces Aboard Ships: The object of these recommendations is to encourage the adoption of safety procedures aimed at preventing casualties to ship personnel entering enclosed spaces where there may be an oxygen-deficient, flammable and/or toxic atmosphere. Practical recommendations for all types of ships and guidance to seafarers are outlined in the annex to the resolution.
MSC.1/Circ.1264 - Recommendations on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Ships Applicable to the Fumigation of Cargo Holds: Insect and mite pests on plant and animal products may be carried into the cargo holds with goods (introduced infestation), they may move from one kind of product to another (cross-infestation) and they may remain to attack subsequent cargoes (residual infestation). The annex of this circular provides guidance to masters in the use of pesticides (fumigants) with a view to personnel safety.
BC.1/Circ.66 - Contact Names and Addresses of the Offices of Designated National Competent Authorities Responsible for the Safe Carriage of Grain and Solid Bulk Cargoes: The annex of this circular contains a revised list of contact names and addresses of the offices of designated national competent authorities of IMO member states' administrations responsible for matters relating to the carriage of grain and solid bulk cargoes.
It should also be noted that some of these IMO documents are currently under review with a view to harmonising their provisions with those of the IMSBC Code and other IMO instruments.
DNV's implementation of the new Code
The new IMSBC Code is for many practical reasons a renaming of the old BC Code. However, the references in the "Document of Compliance for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods" will be changed from BC Code references to IMSBC Code references.
As agreed with the flag authorities that we have asked, DNV will implement this change at the 1st Dangerous Goods Renewal Survey that is scheduled on or after 2011-01-01.
Please note that DNV will issue a new Document of Compliance for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods with references to the new IMSBC code before the first renewal survey after 2011-01-01 if so requested by the owner or manager.
The "Statement of Compliance for the Carriage of Solid Bulk Cargoes in Groups A and C", with references to the IMSBC Code instead of to the BC Code, will be issued directly by our surveyors as before. It should be noted that no survey is necessary for the issuance of this statement.
For more information, please contact: GCSNO861@dnv.com