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Dangerous goods declaration better be spot on!

NVOCCs and cargo manufacturers must go beyond the standard requirements of IMDG Code when it comes to declaring known sensitivities of cargo to the operator, as found by a US court in The MSC Flaminia [2018].

Some might recall the fatal explosion on the vessel in July 2012 that claimed the lives of 3 seafarers. The fire had started in containers carrying divinylbenzene (DVB), a Class 9 cargo.

The underlying cause was that the dangerous cargo declaration (DGD) given to MSC did not contain details on heat sensitivity of the cargo. This was a breach of not only the terms of B/L but also SOLAS VI/r.2.1 and the accepted industry practice. Heat warning was provided in MSDS and B/L but that could not substitute DGD, and had that been adequately filled, cargo would not have been accepted by MSC for transportation during summer months and stowage would also have been different, i.e. would have been stowed in areas not affected by solar and thermal radiative heat. MSC and its sub-contractors were thus entitled to full indemnification.

Remark: there was no hold ventilation done during the voyage; piping of fixed CO2 system incorrectly installed & release instructions inappropriate, but these were inconsequential.

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