Transport of Dangerous Goods

It is estimated that more than 50% of packaged goods and bulk cargoes transported by sea today can be regarded as dangerous or hazardous from safety standpoint or harmful to the environment according to the criteria set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The bulk cargoes being referred to include commodities such as solid or liquid chemicals and other materials, gases and products for and of the oil refinery industry, and wastes. Work on the transport by sea of dangerous and harmful goods was initiated at the first Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in 1914 in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. A new Chapter VI was added to the 1948 SOLAS Convention specifically dealing with carriage of grain and dangerous goods. Following the establishment of IMO (then IMCO), carriage of dangerous goods was dealt with exclusively in Chapter VII of the revised 1960 SOLAS Convention. Further amendments were made to the revised 1974 SOLAS Convention on carriage of dangerous from 1981 through 1994. The revised Chapter VII, as amended in 1994, applies to all ships covered by SOLAS and also to cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage.
 
In the 1960 SOLAS Convention Conference, a resolution was adopted for a uniform international code for the transport of dangerous goods by sea to supplement the regulations contained in the 1960 SOLAS Convention and known as the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. Development of the IMDG Code was carried out in January 1961 and was adopted by the 4th IMO Assembly in 1965. Since then, the IMDG Code has undergone many changes, both in appearance and content to keep pace with the ever- changing need of the industry. In 1985, the IMDG Code was extended to include marine pollutants to assist and facilitate the implementation of Annex III of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78), Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form.
 
The IMDG Code has seven parts and appears in two volumes. IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 73rd Session in November-December 2000 decided, to make sections of the IMDG Code mandatory with entry-into-force by 1 January 2004. The MSC also agreed that some chapters of the IMDG Code should remain recommendatory in nature. Other related IMO instruments that deal with transport of dangerous and harmful goods by sea are the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code), International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquified Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) and the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) by Sea, 1996.

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