MS Amlin guides on fertilizer loading, following claims

Insurer MS Amlin has said that recently it had experienced a number of claims related to cargoes of fertilizers. The most frequently seen claims were wetting or caking of the fertilizer. Burnt fertilizer claims were less frequent, but were more devastating, often resulting in a total loss of the vessel.

MS Amlin’s Pieter Bruins, Loss Prevention Executive, wrote in a just-released circular to clients that, prior to loading any fertilizer, the composition, type, class and corresponding proper safety and emergency procedures had to be accurately determined.

Once this had been established, the proper MSDS and IMSBC sections needed to be consulted and followed in full.

The cargo holds needed to be completely cleaned, washed and rinsed with fresh water and be dry and free from any previous cargo remnants, paint and rust flakes. The hatches should be kept well maintained in a good operating condition without any hydraulic leakages. Rubber hatch cover seals, compression bars, coaming tables should be in clean and undamaged condition and to be inspected weather tightness in seaway conditions.

All sources of heat needed to be kept away from ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers, regardless of their classification. Potential heat sources included heated double bottom bunker tanks, engine room bulkheads, light bulbs/cargo lights, heating systems, steam pipes, electric motors, live electrical cabling and naked flames.

Therefore, all lights and other heat sources in cargo holds should be switched off prior to loading and should remain off throughout the voyage and as long as the fertilizer is on board.

Electrical circuits within cargo holds should be properly isolated while the cargo is on board.

Welding or any other form of hot work that could affect the cargo should not be permitted while the fertilizer is on board.

In case of bagged fertilizer, it was of importance that the surveyor should check the quality and quantity of the fertilizer during loading and discharging, together with the storage facilities at the discharging port.

MS Amlin recommended appointing professional services of a qualified cargo surveying company to assist the Master prior and during loading.