Issues related to water reactive materials, marine pollutants and special provisions for vehicles and engines were among the notable topics discussed during a recent meeting of an International Maritime Organization (IMO) working group.
The IMO’s Editorial and Technical Group (E&T Group) of its Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC Sub-Committee) convened for its 19th session on April 22-26 in London. The E&T Group is responsible for amending the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), the worldwide regulation for transporting dangerous goods by sea, based on decisions made by the DSC Sub-Committee and amendments incorporated into the latest edition of the United Nations’ Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Model Regulations (the UN Model Regulations).
The IMDG Code is written in conjunction with two international conventions, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The IMDG Code was developed as a uniform international code for the transport of dangerous goods by sea covering the classification, packaging, marking, labeling, placarding, stowage and segregation of cargo. The newest version of the IMDG Code, Amendment 37-14, will be authorized on a voluntary basis effective January 1, 2015, and becomes mandatory on January 1, 2016. The latest session of the E&T Group was focused on developing amendments for this new edition and finalizing the corrigendum/addendum for Amendment 36-12.
The first two days of the meeting were devoted to a careful review of the amendments that will be included in the 18th revised edition of the Model Regulations. The E&T Group adopted all of the UN amendments with a few minor differences related to publication structure and rewording of certain text to make it more suitable for sea transport. The other three days focused on specific proposals to amend the IMDG Code, including:
- Packaging and stowage requirements for water reactive materials;
- Excepting environmentally hazardous substances in quantities less than 5 kilograms or 5 liters;
- Clarifying the transport provisions for UN 3166 and UN 3171, including amendments to special provisions 961 and 962 relative to vehicles, combustion engines, fuel cell powered vehicles and equipment containing engines;
- Replacing the term “Marine Pollutant” and the indication on a shipping paper and classification of mixtures with marine pollutants;
- Marking of small portable tanks;
- Harmonizing the symbols used on labels and placards;
- Transporting various batteries (most notably lithium batteries) that are either damaged or intended for disposal or recycling; and
- Reorganizing Column (16) for Stowage and Segregation in the Dangerous Goods List.
Companies that are required to comply with the IMDG Code should carefully review the agreed-upon amendments in the report of the E&T Group, as they can have a significant impact on operations. Additionally, all of the agreed amendments are subject to further review in September 2013 during the next DSC Sub-Committee and E&T Group meetings. This means there is an opportunity to provide additional relevant information, including recommended changes to the tentatively approved text, that can be used by the E&T Group to better understand the implications of amendments adopted. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team if you questions about this process or the changes in general.
Packaging and Stowage Requirements for Water Reactive Materials
On the basis of a technical risk study and proposal by Germany, the E&T Group considered a number of proposals to address the packaging and stowage of water reactive substances when transported by sea. A new special provision was added to numerous water reactive substances that have the EmS code “F-G” in Column 16 of the IMDG Code to specify that the water reactive materials must be loaded into dry containers and kept as dry as “reasonably practicable.” However, since not all substances assigned “F-G” in Column 15 are water reactive, some substances such as oxidizers were captured even though this requirement may not be justified. This provides even more reason to conduct a thorough review to determine if your company’s products have been impacted. A number of delegates noted that freight containers are not watertight and that the packaging used for these substances should be of sufficient design and integrity to protect the contents from moisture. This new special provision, a compromise solution that took quite a bit of discussion to reach a conclusion, is extremely subjective. It stands to reason that it will eventually play a significant role should an incident occur where liability can be assessed if it is shown that the incident occurred because the container was not kept dry. It’s also reasonable to assume that legal arguments will be made on the basis of what is “reasonably practicable.”
Similarly to the Column 16 amendment, paragraph 184.108.40.206 was revised to add a sentence:
“Whenever the stowage provision ‘keep as dry as reasonably practicable’ is assigned in column (16) of the dangerous goods list, the closed cargo transport unit including any contained goods, securing or packing materials shall be kept as dry as reasonably practicable.”
One would wonder whether this needs to be stated again, as it would appear obvious. However, the alternate text proposed by Germany would have been much more difficult to impose in practice, so the text was adopted as a compromise.
The stowage requirements for certain hazard class materials, including numerous Division 4.3 materials, were revised with the following new language:
- “Separated from” goods of classes 2.1 and 3.
- In addition: from goods of classes 2.1 and 3 when stowed on deck of a containership a minimum distance of two container spaces athwartship shall be maintained, when stowed on ro-ro ships a distance of 6 m athwartship shall be maintained.”
This will impact the ability for shippers of these materials to book their freight on various types of ships due to the conservative stowage restrictions, but the alternative proposed by Germany would have been even more restrictive.
Special packing provisions PP31 (which requires packages to be hermetically sealed) and PP40 (which precludes the use of bags) were added to numerous Division 4.3 substances. This will require that packagings (bags, flexible IBCs) are either hermetically sealed or fitted with a waterproof liner. While some questioned the technical basis and argued for UN consideration so that the changes could be discussed in a multimodal context, the E&T Group adopted the amendment on the basis that the modal authorities can adopt more stringent requirements than the UN Model Regulations if they deem them necessary for safety reasons.
Exceptions for Environmentally Hazardous Substances in Quantities Less than 5 Kilograms or 5 Liters
The E&T Group considered a document submitted by the United States consistent with a decision taken by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods which proposed to except environmentally hazardous substances from the requirements of the IMDG Code. This was agreed upon by the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UN COE) at their 6th session but some delegates, most notably Belgium and the Netherlands, expressed concern on the lack of documentation for exempted substances. Subsequently, the group decided to put square brackets around the proposed amendments as a placeholder to remind the group to revisit the matter at their next meeting in September. The United States agreed to lead a correspondence group in an attempt to find a consensus solution prior to the September 2013 meeting. Since these proposed exceptions have a huge cost-savings potential for many shippers, it is recommended that companies that could be potentially impacted should contact Shane Kelley (email@example.com), Senior International Transportation Specialist for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), to express any concerns. If the IMO was to require documentation for these substances, which will be unregulated in other modes, it would result in diminishing the benefits of the exception significantly.
Clarification of Special Provisions 961 and 962 Relative to Vehicles, Combustion Engines, Fuel Cell Powered Vehicles and Equipment Containing Engines
Discussion on this topic was extensive and spanned an entire day. In the end, a reasonable solution was adopted that will benefit shippers of these articles. Document DSC 17/3/12 (Belgium, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, DGAC and IVODGA) proposed amendments to special provisions SP 961 and SP 962, which recently entered into force under Amendment 35-10. The group agreed on amendments to these special provisions, as well as the newly added SP 970, in order to differentiate UN 3166 from other UN entries, in particular from “UN 3363, Dangerous goods contained in equipment or articles.” The group agreed that UN 3166 should apply to internal combustion engines with or without a fuel tank attached, as well as to machinery containing a combustion engine. Furthermore, the group agreed that a declaration of consignment under UN 3166 and UN 3171 as a marine pollutant was not necessary. The group agreed that a differentiator between UN 3166 and other entries, as well as the declaration of consignment of UN 3166 and UN 3171 as marine pollutants, may have multimodal impact and should be brought to the attention of the UN COE’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Sub-Committee (UN TDG Sub-Committee).
Lithium Batteries and Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries for Disposal or Recycling
The E&T Group considered the new special provision SP 377 to accommodate the transport of mixed battery shipments that may include nickel metal hydride and lithium batteries. Initially, the group was in favor of limiting these shipments to short international voyages. A short international voyage is defined as:
An international voyage in the course of which a ship is not more than 200 miles from a port or place in which the passengers and crew could be placed in safety. Neither the distance between the last port of call in the country in which the voyage begins and the final port of destination nor the return voyage shall exceed 600 miles.
The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association representative was able to convince the group to allow longer voyages if appropriate stowage provisions were adopted. The group agreed to apply a “Category C” designation, which requires “on deck” stowage for batteries and cells transported in accordance with special provision SP 377 unless transported on a short international voyage.
Damaged Lithium Batteries
The E&T Group agreed to harmonize the requirements for damaged or defective lithium batteries in accordance with new special provision SP 376 and packaging instructions P908 or LP904 as applicable.
The E&T Group agreed to exclude class 7 hazardous materials from marine pollutant/environmentally hazardous substance requirements, harmonizing the IMDG Code requirements with that of other modes of transport. Consequential amendments to MARPOL Annex III were developed and will be forwarded to the DSC Sub-Committee. Draft amendments to paragraph 220.127.116.11.1 and note 2 of chapter 2.9 were adopted, and a new paragraph (18.104.22.168) was added. The group noted that the issue of whether “articles” are considered marine pollutants was forwarded to the UN TDG Sub-Committee to provide clarification.
The E&T Group assigned a new special provision, SP 969, to UN 3077 and UN 3082 and adopted revisions to 22.214.171.124 and 3.2.1. SP 969 reads:
“Substances classified in accordance to 2.9.3 are subject to the provisions for marine pollutants. Substances which are transported under UN 3077 and 3082 but which do not meet the criteria of 2.9.3 (see 126.96.36.199) are not subject to the provisions for marine pollutants. However for substances that are identified as marine pollutants in this Code (see Index) but which no longer meet the criteria of 2.9.3, the provisions of 188.8.131.52 apply.”
“Column 4 of the Dangerous Goods List also provides information on marine pollutants using the symbol P for single entries. The absence of the symbol P or the presence of a “-” in that column does not preclude the application of 2.10.3.”
This clarifies that the aquatic toxicity criteria in 2.10.3 may be applied.
The E&T Group considered a document from the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC), which proposed the abbreviation MP/EH for “Marine Pollutant/Environmentally Hazardous.” After discussion, the observer from IPPIC suggested to modify their original proposal and use the term Aquatic Pollutant, or “AP.” There was a lot of support for this term from delegates. Following a lengthy discussion on the proposed term and abbreviation, the group supported the use of a single term for all modes of transport, preferably “Aquatic Pollutant” for documentation purposes that should be accepted multi-modally. The UN TDG Sub-Committee will be asked to consider the matter at their June 2013 session.
The E&T Group considered clarification on how to address mixtures containing marine pollutants. Germany raised the question on how to deal with mixtures that consist of dangerous goods listed by name and a second component which is hazardous to the environment and not listed by name. Environmentally hazardous substances need to be named on the transport document according to the IMDG-Code as a marine pollutant. In addition to the standard requirement to indicate a technical name or names when special provision SP 274 is assigned, the IMDG Code also requires that a technical name be indicated for marine pollutants according to 184.108.40.206.2. 220.127.116.11.1 requires that the proper shipping name be supplemented with the recognized technical name of the constituent that makes the material a marine pollutant. This applies when the shipping name is a generic (e.g. paint) or n.o.s. entry. For example, a mixture containing an acetone solution (listed in the Dangerous Goods List (DGL) of the IMDG Code), and an epoxy resin (not listed in the DGL but deemed environmentally hazardous according to the aquatic toxicity criteria (70% acetone, 30% epoxy resin), the description would be “UN 1090 Acetone solution (Epoxy resin), 3, II, Marine Pollutant.” The group agreed to this interpretation.
On the basis of a proposal from the United States, the E&T Group considered incidents involving the use of counterfeit refrigerant, which prompted proposed amendments to provision 18.104.22.168.4. It was agreed to revise 22.214.171.124.4 to read:
“The refrigeration system shall be subjected to a thorough inspection and a test prior to the cargo transport unit being packed to ensure that all parts are functioning properly. Refrigerant gas shall only be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating instructions for the refrigeration system. Prior to filling replacement refrigerant gas, a certificate of analysis from the supplier shall be obtained and checked to confirm that the gas meets refrigeration system specifications. In addition, the replacement refrigerant gas shall be checked for possible contamination prior to use. If the refrigerant gas is found to be contaminated it shall not be used, the cylinder shall be plainly marked “CONTAMINATED”, the cylinder shall be sealed and sent for recycling or disposal and notification shall be given to the refrigerant gas supplier and authorized distributor and competent authority(ies) of the countries to which the supplier and distributor reside, as appropriate. The date of last refrigerant replacement shall be included in the maintenance record of the refrigeration system.
Note: Contamination can be checked by using flame halide lamp tests, gas sniffer tube tests or gas chromatography. Replacement refrigerant gas cylinders may be marked with the test result and the date of testing.”
Harmonization of Symbols Used on Labels and Placards
The E&T Group adopted amendments to more clearly specify marking, labeling and placarding specifications. In addition it was noted that the symbols on labels for a number of hazard include different symbols compared to those used in the UN Model Regulations. It was agreed that the IMO Secretariat would align all label specifications with those in the UN Model Regulations. The E&T Group also agreed to incorporate text similar to that specified in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (ICAO TI) to allow for minor deviations. The agreed text was included as a note in 126.96.36.199.2 and reads as follows:
“Note: Labels shall satisfy the provisions below and conform, in terms of colour, symbols and general format, to the models shown in 188.8.131.52.2. Corresponding models required for other modes of transport, with minor variations which do not affect the obvious meaning of the label, are also acceptable.”
Some delegates indicated that notes are not considered mandatory regulatory text, so the entire note was placed in square brackets to remind the group to revisit that matter at their next meeting. It was also agreed to ask the UN TDG Sub-Committee to add similar text.
Portable Tank Markings, Labels and Placards
The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) proposed to adopt a provision in the 49 CFR to allow alternative placarding and marking of portable tanks that have a capacity of less than 3,785 litres (1,000 gallons). The group felt that 3,000 liters, which is the maximum capacity for IBCs, should be used and agreed to amend chapter 5.3 appropriately. Since this is a multimodal issue, the UN TDG Sub-Committee will be asked to consider the proposal.
Limited Quantity Marks
It was agreed to add the text adopted by the UN TDG Sub-Committee that clarifies the use of the limited quantity air transport mark.
The paragraph was reorganized as follows:
“184.108.40.206 – Multi-modal recognition of marks
220.127.116.11.1 – Packages containing dangerous goods bearing the marking shown in 18.104.22.168 with or without the additional labels and markings for air transport shall be deemed to meet the provisions of section 3.4.2 and need not bear the marking shown in 22.214.171.124.”
126.96.36.199.2 – Packages containing dangerous goods in limited quantities bearing the marking shown in 188.8.131.52 and conforming with the provisions of the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, including all necessary marks and labels specified in Parts 5 and 6, shall be deemed to meet the provisions of section 3.4.1 as appropriate and of section 3.4.2.”
Transport of Packaging Waste with Residues of Dangerous Goods
The E&T Group agreed not to adopt UN 3509, a new entry for transport of packaging waste with residues of dangerous goods. This entry was included in the UN Model Regulations in order to establish transport conditions for European land transport. The E&T Group agreed that the new entry should not be used for the maritime mode and included a new special provision, SP 969, indicating that the entry is prohibited for sea transport.
Reorganization of Column 16 of the Dangerous Goods List
Column 16 of the DGL is being revised and new stowage and segregation codes will be included in two new columns, “16(a)” and “16(b).” The E&T Group generally agreed and requested that the Secretariat issue a document that shows examples of the reorganization for consideration at the next meeting of the DSC Sub-Committee. Additionally, the group asked that a document containing a completely revised DGL be prepared for their next meeting.
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