The IMO’s Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers held its 17th session from Monday 17 through Friday 21 September 2012 under the Chairmanship of Mr Xie Hui (CHINA). He, together with his Vice Chairman, Mr Patrick Van Lancker (BELGIUM) were re-elected. Three working groups were convened:

(1) Container Safety
(2) Amendments to SOLAS to mandate enclosed space entry and rescue drills
(3) Amendment 02-13 to the IMSBC Code

Points of interest emanating from the meeting thought to be most of interest to Intermanager Members are as follows:
• TRANSPORT OF IRON ORE FINES IN BULK. WG3 prepared terms of reference for a Correspondence Group, the outcome of which would feature a new schedule for iron ore fines, testing procedures (if necessary) and a revision of the existing iron ore schedule, if required.
Towards this end, Member States, IGOs and NGOs were invited to make available detailed technical information on liquefaction incidents/casualties to assist the Correspondence Group in its work, which is due for completion by the end of May 2013.
The decision not to finalise a draft schedule for iron ore fines at this session was taken in recognition of combined on-going research between Australia and Brazil which is expected to complete prior to DSC 18. Importantly, this research covers ships smaller than Capesize (notably Handymax) which many delegates consider to be an important factor in the liquefaction problem.
Difficulties in the sampling of stockpiles were highlighted given that the Indian Standard covers the in situ sampling of stockpiles up to a height of three metres, whereas the ISO Standard adopted by Brazil refers to a height of eighteen metres, making it almost impossible to extract a ‘fully representative’ sample. However, draft Guidelines for developing and approving procedures for sampling, testing and controlling the moisture content for solid bulk cargoes that may liquefy were agreed for submission to MSC 92.
• ENCLOSED SPACE ENTRY AND RESCUE DRILLS. The Sub-Committee approved WG3’s proposed addition to SOLAS Chapter III Regulation 19 para 3.3, that ‘crew members with enclosed space entry or rescue responsibilities shall participate in an enclosed space entry and rescue drill to be held on board the ship at least once every two months’. Intermanager was co-signatory of a submission (together with the NI, ITF and IFSMA) seeking to amend SOLAS such that every ship to which Chapter I applies shall carry an appropriate instrument for measuring the oxygen content of the air and that crew members are commensurately trained in its use. Unfortunately, WG3 which was charged to consider this proposal, saw fit to widen its terms of reference from ‘oxygen meters’ to ‘appropriate atmosphere testing instruments’, thus muddying the waters. However, following prolonged and somewhat heated exchanges, the Chairman acknowledged that oxygen meters should indeed be the priority and that ‘multi-meters’ might then be explored. Justification for a new planned output will thus be made to MSC making it clear that the primary focus should be the oxygen meter.
• AMENDMENTS TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR SAFE CONTAINERS, 1972. The International Container Bureau (BIC) offered the development of a database to monitor approved continuous examination programmes (ACEP). This would be available at no cost (to the IMO) but the World Shipping Council (WSC), together with IICL and SPAIN, successfully argued that any costs involved should be borne by BIC, not the Industry or Governments. BIC agreed to develop a pilot database (for a free 2 year trial period) using voluntary information from Member Governments and international organisations following which it would submit a document to DSC 18.
• DEVELOPMENT OF MEASURES TO PREVENT LOSS OF CONTAINERS. It was agreed that the most accurate way to determine the weight of a container is by weighing, but that not every country has the necessary resources to do so. Thus a draft amendment to SOLAS Chapter VI for submission to MSC92 for approval will permit either weighing the packed freight container or weighing all packages and cargo items etc using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the freight container was completed. With regard to lashing equipment, ISO will be approached to consider the possible need for a revision of standard ISO 3874 (handling and securing). The Industry was requested to submit through IICL, a document on the use of counterfeit refrigerant to DSC 18 and finally, a correspondence group was established to further examine and help to prevent the loss of containers.
• URGENT MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED BY MSC 91 (26-30 NOVEMBER 2012). Due to the close proximity between DSC 17 and MSC 91, the Committee will only consider the following urgent matters emanating from this session, with the remainder deferred to MSC 92:
1. Amendments to SOLAS to mandate enclosed space entry and rescue drills;
2. Amendments to the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972, and associated circulars;
3. Revision of the Guidelines for packing of cargo transport units; and
4. Amendment to the IMSBC Code and supplements (matters related to cargo liquefaction only).

Just in case there is any remaining doubt concerning the proposal by Intermanager, NI, ITF and IFSMA at DSC 17 that every ship to which Chapter 1 of SOLAS applies shall carry an appropriate instrument for measuring the oxygen content of the air, i.e. an oxygen meter, the IMO Secretariat will shortly be forwarding a Justification for a new planned output to the Maritime Safety Committee which meets from 26 – 30 November 2012. It is expected that MSC (DSC’s parent committee) will accept the rationale for this measure, especially as it has been given support by BLG 16 and DSC 17. In the meanwhile, oxygen meters remain advisory until MSC pronounces them mandatory for Chapter 1 ships

Captain Paddy McKnight


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