Guidelines seek to cut lithium-ion battery carriage risks

Guidelines seek to cut lithium-ion battery carriage risks

Seatrade Maritime — 2023-03-29

Maritime and Ports

The first in a series of documents on safely carrying lithium-ion batteries covers how the batteries operate, their regulatory classification as cargo, the risk of and causes of thermal runaway which can lead to fires, and the toxicity hazards associated with the battery chemistry.

The document goes on to give an overview of factors involved in choosing a container for lithium-ion batteries, the effect of a battery’s charge state on packing considerations, stowage on container ships, detecting and dealing with lithium-ion fires on container ships, and loss mitigation measures.

The guidelines were Developed by CINS, an initiative launched by container lines in 2011 to reduce cargo incidents, alongside the International Group of P&I Clubs, the TT Club and the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA).

We strongly urge all stakeholders in the production, supply, transport, handling and sale of lithium-ion batteries whether as individual components or integrated into an electronic device, vehicle or other product to recognise their responsibilities in maximising safety when in transit,” said Dirk Van de Velde, Deputy Chair of CINS and board member of ICHCA.

Our Guidelines will create greater awareness of the possibilities of the damaging and life-threatening incidents, which have already occurred, and instil more urgent motivation to act before more catastrophic disasters result.

The initial publication will be followed by three further documents – regulatory compliance checklists, risk assessment and emergency response, and training and educational awareness.

As our experience of transporting lithium-ion batteries widens and the technology surrounding their chemical composition, production and application rapidly evolves, risk controls and loss prevention measures need to keep pace.  The work encapsulated in these Guidelines will, of necessity, continue and be undertaken in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to increase our knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by carriage of lithium – ion batteries in containers by sea.  This publication follows on from a very successful one day Conference held on 15th March by the IG P&I Clubs, CINS, TT Club to bring all parties together to discuss such risks and to share knowledge and experience of carriage across the logistics supply chain” said Mark Smith, Loss Prevention Executive NorthStandard.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox, Risk Management Director at freight transport insurer TT Club added: “As the pressure on all forms of economic activity for decarbonisation increases, the use of these batteries will inevitably escalate at rates we have previously not experienced.  Air transport has been heavily restricted already and it is clear that surface modes will be called upon to transport these goods.  As an adaptable unit, the container will remain a focal point for safe transport, including for EVs alongside other vehicle carriers.  The intermodal nature of containers means more actors other than shipping lines, be they manufacturers, packers, forwarders, logistics operators, warehouses and cargo handlers must all be cognisant of the safety issues we are addressing and play their part in ensuring the risks are properly managed.

Lithium-Ion Batteries in Containers Guidelines is available to download from the CINS website.