WSC targets misdeclared lithium-ion cargo in new safety push

WSC targets misdeclared lithium-ion cargo in new safety push

The Load Star — 2023-09-29

Maritime and Ports

Liner lobby group the World Shipping Council (WSC) yesterday launched a new cargo safety project, aimed at reducing the risk of fire onboard ships. 

The WSC promised a renewed focus on misdeclared shipments – identified by safety experts as one of the most common causes of vessel fires – with its new Cargo Safety Program, a digital solution comprising a common screening tool, verified shipper database and a database of approved container inspection companies.  

The system will be operated by an independent third-party vendor, and the WSC has opened request for proposals (RfP) process for prospective operators to select “an independent third-party provider with high integrity to develop digital tools and manage the Cargo Safety Program process for cargo screening and inspections”. 

The RfP application deadline is 26 November. 

A common industry approach to cargo safety will create a safer working environment not only for ship crews, but for everyone involved in inland transport or working in ports and terminals, as well as for the communities around us. For shippers, it will make ocean transport more efficient and dependable by stopping dangerous shipments that can disrupt the supply chain,” said John Butler, WSC president and CEO. 

There have been 64 reported fires on containerships in the past five years, with fire-related incidents at sea increasing by over 17% in 2022 from 2021. 

Despite comprehensive and clear international and national regulations on the transport of dangerous goods, insurer TT Club estimates that a serious ship fire occurs every 60 days caused by hazardous cargo that has not been declared, been mis-declared or has not been properly packed by shippers.  

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the leading causes of containership fires and are believed to be the cause of a recent blaze on a vessel carrying 3,000 cars from Germany to Egypt, killing one person and injuring several others.  

The rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles means the number of lithium-ion batteries being introduced into the supply chain is increasing – along with the risk of combustion.