TT Club has highlighted the need of addressing the issues of mishandling dangerous cargo, which in several cases leads to container ship fires, with the most recent and indicative example of X-Press Pearl, which is now sinking off Colombo after being on blazes for more than two weeks.

The UK-based insurance company again urges all those involved in the movement of such cargoes to step up to their responsibilities and to act with transparency and diligence in matters of safety in transport.

“The X-Press Pearl sad fate is the latest in a disappointing recent and persistent catalogue of container ship fires of varying degrees of severity, which occur on an almost weekly basis,” said TT Club, which pointed out that the vast majority of these incidents “are initiated by a cargo of a hazardous nature.”

The number of containers that include misdeclared/undeclared dangerous cargoes exceeds 150,000 per year, according to estimations.

While the investigations of the X-Press Pearl accident are still ongoing and both Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the vessel operator, X-Press Feeders, have announced that no sign of pollution has been reported, TT Club said that the catalyst for the inferno on the ship has been asserted to be a leakage of nitric acid, which was correctly declared but apparently incorrectly packaged or packed.

TT Club said it has been campaigning for some time to reduce these life-threatening, cargo and ship damaging, environmentally impactful and highly costly events.

This activity includes promoting awareness and wider use of the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units – the CTU Code – and seeking changes in regulatory requirements to improve the clarity, application, implementation and enforcement of mandatory regulations, including the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

“Effective review of regulations is to be applauded,” noted Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director who believes that “Holistic industry-led initiatives are necessary.”

Peregrine Storrs-Fox went on to explain, “An understanding by all the actors in the supply chain of safe packaging, packing, loading and unloading of containers, and of the need for detailed, accurate information of the cargo’s attributes and any potentially hazardous reactions to any eventuality occurring through the entire transit, is necessary. Above all truth, trust and transparency must guide all involved.”

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