Handling Claims On Damaged Chemical Containers

Сontainers turnover in Ukrainian ports is quite high and it has a tendency to grow. Sometimes cargoes may be flammable or toxic so it’s vital to meet appropriate safety rules. We handle containers damage cases for vessels with chemicals onboard. Case study During discharge operations, the damaged container has been detected, with top metal roof and both sides of the container swelled. In such cases, port authorities should be immediately informed about the incident. Sanitary and Epidemiological Service inspection results showed that phosphine concentration in the air significantly exceeded the permissible limits. The Service issued a Protocol to prohibit any presence of people onboard and surrounding territory and around the vessel. Moreover, due to the instructions made by the Sanitary Inspection, the authorities in the next port refused to accept the vessel for discharge the containers with damaged container onboard. Harbour Master imposed an administrative fine on the Master due to lack of information at the moment of ship’s call about the hazardous cargo on board and cargo classification according to IMDG Code. Cargo receivers refused to accept the cargo with a damaged container. It was clear that the cargo created a hazard to the safety of crew, vessel, and environment, and there was a risk of spontaneous fire. Disposal of such containers is a real problem because authorities are not in a position to issue permission for utilization of the damaged container and cargo in Ukraine. The intensive negotiations with various authorities (Sanitary Inspections, Customs, Ecological Inspection, Harbour Master, Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine, Administration of Terminal) lasted 20 days. In the result, we agreed to dismantle the damaged container and carry this cargo onboard to the port of loading. Thus, with the assistance of the chemical expert appointed by the Club, the damaged container was dismantled, debris of container was packed at special bags, goods were packed at plastic bags, re-stowed on a flat-rack (with no confining sides and roof) and carried below deck (to keep dry) and in a continuously ventilated hold to prevent accumulation of any emitted phosphine. The flat rack kept dry during loading/unloading, regular monitoring of the air in the holds for phosphine was arranged. In the end, the damaged cargo was delivered back and discharged at the port of loading.


The vessel was released and obtained permission to sail. The damaged cargo was dismantled, packed at a special bag, and carried on the vessel to the port of loading.

P&I Correspondents Recommendations

We would recommend that Shipowners consider the following steps to be undertaken:

• Notify Harbour Master in due course about the status of hazard cargo onboard upon ship’s calls per IMDG Code.

• If a damaged container was found, inform P&I Club, local Correspondent, authorities and provide protective measures for the crew, vessel, and environment.

• To require the appointment of a relevant expert by P&I Club for supervision for any operations with hazardous cargo. • Provide regular monitoring of the air in the holds and ship’s premises.

• Perform cargo operations under the cover (in case of rain) but in an open area. • Continuous detection of emitting gas to prevent the formation of an explosive atmosphere concentration of the gas, and to protect the workforce from occupational over-exposure to this toxic substance.

• Provide employees with necessary protection: a full face mask, PVC or other acid-resistant type gloves, helmets, and safety acid-resistant shoes.

• Prepare the Risk Assessment plan.

• Before any works, the ship staff and contractors working onboard shall be aware of the danger and meet sufficient safety rules.

• In case of conducting hot works onboard (for dismantling the damaged container), obtain the permission for hot works from Harbour Master in advance.

• Be prepared to conduct all operations with damaged container and cargo onboard under supervision of qualified expert appointed by P&I Club.

• If Masters and Shipowners are in doubt about specific details of the chemical cargoes, their reaction with atmosphere, water, etc., refer to P&I Club or relevant expert appointed by the Club.