The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC) is updated every two years. This is the way to reflect the changes in the nature and variety of solid bulk cargoes dedicated for shipment. As new cargo properties and dangers are discovered an amplification of SOLAS Chapter VI, Part B Special Provisions for Solid Bulk Cargoes comes into force.
Recent amendments (06-21) to the IMSBC Code, adopted by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in res. MSC.500(105), will become mandatory from 1 December 2023 but may be applied by Administrations, voluntarily, from 1 January 2023. The present update, which includes important new controls for Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer cargoes that may ignite and explode, is crucial for ship, crew, and safety, thus it impacts operations involved with bulk carriers.
Principal changes are involved with:
“Dynamic separation means the phenomenon of forming a liquid slurry (water and fine solids) above the solid material, resulting in a free surface effect which may significantly affect the ship’s stability”.
“Cargoes (including bauxite and coal) which may undergo dynamic separation means cargoes which contain a certain proportion of fine particles and a certain amount of moisture and may undergo dynamics separation if shipped at a moisture content in excess of their Transportable Moisture Limit (TML)”.
Both Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer and Superphosphate fertilizers are not classified as being hazardous in packaged/bagged form, which is why, they are not listed in the IMDG Code. They are now classified as Materials Hazardous in Bulk (MHBs) and are subject to a new special IMSBC testing regime.
In respect of the fact that deleted SUPERPHOSPHATE (triple, granular), as group C, cannot be automatically accepted as the new SUPERPHOSPHATE (triple, granular), as group B, shipowners/operators should request their RO, e.g. PRS, for review and update of theirs IMSBC certificates. Additional changes to the requirements of twenty cargoes may not affect the carriage of solid bulk cargoes already permitted for ships in service.
It should also be noted that changes to the IMSB Code also have an impact on SOLAS Exemption Certificates for fixed gas fire extinguishing systems. If the below-mentioned cargoes:
AMMONIUM NITRATE-BASED FERTILIZER MHB
SUPERPHOSPHATE (triple, granular)
LEACH RESIDUE CONTAINING LEAD
are carried or intended to be carried, the exemption certificate will need to be replaced according to new solid bulk cargoes categorized as group B in Table 1 of Annex to MSC.1/Circ.1395/Rev.5. Mentioned MSC.1/Circ.1395/Rev.5 supersedes MSC.1/Circ.1395/Rev.4.
As it is said, significant risks remain, and new risks are being continuously discovered, thus only revalidation of existing ship procedures and staff training will lead to improvement of crew safety, carriage by ship cargo, and environmental protection.