NCB launches second container inspections safety initiative

US-based inspection body National Cargo Bureau (NCB)has said that evidence from numerous inspections over the past few years have indicated that poorly stowed, undeclared and misdeclared dangerous goods shipments continue to present a significant safety hazard.

As a result it has launched a second container inspection initiative to determine just how prevalent the problem remains.

Five years ago NCB co-operated Maersk, Hapag Lloyd and CMA-CGM, in an initiative which it said “laid bare the disconcerting realities within container transport safety”. The analysis revealed that an unsettling 55% of inspected containers were non-compliant, with 43% failing due to poorly secured dangerous goods, and an astonishing 6.5% found to be carrying mis-declared dangerous cargoes.

Subsequent inspections performed by NCB have continued to reveal poorly stowed containers as well as undeclared and mis-declared shipments of dangerous goods such as charcoal, flammable liquids, and used lithium-Ion batteries. A recent, targeted remote container inspection programme conducted by NCB in South Africa for a major shipping line revealed a 74% failure rate due to non-compliant loads with 37% observed to be stuffed with mis-declared and / or undeclared dangerous goods.

Ian Lennard, NCB President and CEO, said that the correlation between containership fires and the presence of undeclared, mis-declared, or inadequately stowed dangerous cargos was “too profound to overlook”.

NCB is enhancing its inspection initiative, using onsite and remote inspections, which it said would allow for the efficient examination of containers anywhere in the world and linking customers directly with NCB’s team of surveyors.

Several major shipping lines, including Hapag Lloyd, Maersk, CMA CGM and MSC have committed to the initiative, NCB said.

Container inspections have commenced in various locations around the world and the initiative will continue to ramp up over the third quarter. All ocean carriers are invited to apply and take part.  NCB is encouraging broader participation from industry for a more comprehensive view on container risks globally. Container inspections performed by NCB as part of the initiative are being offered to carriers free of charge.