Dangerous goods are an attractive niche product for a shipper, but detecting undeclared DGs was important, said Ken Rohlmann, Senior Director Dangerous Goods at Hapag Lloyd.
“These days, these kinds of transports are a very attractive niche product for us – and ones with quite a strategic importance”, adding that Hapag Lloyd boasted a high degree of expertise in this specialized business segment and that transporting dangerous goods was quite a lucrative business segment. “And that’s why further expanding our dangerous goods business is an important part of Hapag-Lloyd’s Strategy 2023.”
He said that, in general terms, Hapag Lloyd transported everything that it was legally permitted to transport. International dangerous goods regulations distinguish between nine classes of dangerous goods, each with its own specific risks.
“Handling them is usually simple and doesn’t involve any major risks. But when several tonnes of these goods are transported in a sea container, the risk profile can definitely change.”
Rohlmann also emphasized that Hapag-Lloyd also reserved the right to not transport legal products if it considered the potential risk involved with the transport to be too high. One example could involve Class 6.2 infectious substances, or charcoal from Indonesia (which he said had caused many container fires).
He noted that in 2018 Hapag-Lloyd transported almost 480,000 TEU of dangerous goods without any major incidents. “That shows that we are very well prepared for this kind of cargo,”
However, he accepted that undeclared DGs – whether out of ignorance or fraudulent intent – were “quite a headache”.
The company’s Cargo Patrol software (developed as long ago as 2012) lets Hapag Lloyd scan the booking documents of all cargo that has not been declared as DGs and to search for any anomalies. “At the moment, we are coming across an average of 1,400 suspicious bookings per day”, he said. The company focuses on high-risk substances that pose a threat to crew’s lives and limbs, to the safety of ships, to the environment, or to the cargo of all other customers on board any particular ship.
“Undeclared explosives are simply more dangerous than undeclared paint”, Rohlmann said.