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IMO revisits IBC Code
Originally published:  01/05/2012
At its 63rd session this past March, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved amendments to the cargo lists in chapters 17, 18 and 19 of the International Bulk Chemical (IBC) Code. The amendments take into account changes that have occurred since the last set of amendments in 2009, including all products in List 1 of MEPC.2/Circ.17 indicated as valid for all countries and with no expiry date as well as those products that were categories by the Bulk Liquids and Gases Sub-committee (BLG) at its 16th session that have no data in column i (electrical equipment). Significant gaps had been identified in this column during discussions on the testing of pressure/vacuum valves for products with a low maximum experimental safe gap (MESG); a circular had been issued seeking information and data was received for a large number of products.
The amendments agreed by MEPC still have to be approved by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its meeting this month and then formally adopted by both Committees later in the year. Entry into force of the amendments will take place in mid-2014, alongside publication of the new edition of the IBC Code, which will be known as the ‘2012 Amendments’.
IMO is gearing up for a more extensive review of the IBC Code to try and overcome what is seen as a ‘dual standard’. A change in the evaluation criteria in 2004 means that substances assigned to carriage requirements since that date have been treated differently and, it is felt, more stringently than pre- 2004 products. The International Parcel Tankers Association (IPTA) says there is concern that strict application of the current criteria for assigning carriage requirements in chapter 21 of the IBC Code to products originally evaluated prior to 2004 could lead to unnecessarily stringent requirements for a number of high volume products, with regard to ship and/or tank type.
It has now been established that one of the prime triggers for assignment to a higher ship/ tank type is acute toxicity. BLG has considered ways in which this can be ameliorated; for instance, products with a low saturated vapour concentration tend to dissolve or evaporate readily and do not need to be subject to the same strict carriage requirements as other toxic products. IPTA says that this approach will still result in some products moving from Ship Type 3 to Ship Type 2 but should avoid more drastic changes to Ship Type 1. A small group of pilot materials will be selected in order to evaluate the proposals. Once agreement has been reached, possibly in 2014, the new criteria will be applied to individual products in chapters 17 and 18. This process should be completed by 2015, leading to entry into force of any new carriage requirements by 2018.