Contamination is leading cause of tank container claims

Causes of Claims involving Tank Containers: By Volume (2006 – 2014) Causes of Claims involving Tank Containers: By Volume (2006 – 2014)

NOVEMBER 6, 2014 — Leading freight transport insurer TT Club says that contamination accounts for nearly half of all claims relating to tank container incidents, with damage to tanks adding another third and leaks and spills accounting for some 11%.

"Contamination can result from any number of factors," TT Club's Regional Director, Asia-Pacific, Phillip Emmanuel said at the Asia Tank Container Organization's General Meeting in Shanghai yesterday. "However, the incompatibility of the tank itself with the cargo concerned is the most common cause. This is often the result of insufficient cleaning, particularly of the discharge valves and baffle plates, following the carriage of the previous cargo. Corroded or worn man lid seals, and issues occurring either at the origin land tank or during the loading procedure are also common contributory factors."

"In terms of impact damage, most tanks are built to highly robust standards and the incidence of leaks from such accidents is low," said Mr. Emmanuel. "Damaged or failure of valves, seals and gaskets are much more common in occurrence."

Mr. Emmanuel listed the chief safety precautions recommended to avoid such risks as:

  • Comprehensively interrogate and validate the Material Safety Data Sheet to ensure the tank and its components can fulfil all special requirements demanded by the cargo and the shipper
  • Perform regular outer shell and insulation inspections
  • Fit man lid gaskets and seals correctly and ensure the appropriate tightening of swing bolts on man lids
  • Assess the most appropriate selection of gaskets and seals for each cargo. Particularly invasive cargoes can simply destroy any exposed area of the gasket and/or seal.

"When there is a failure in any of the above control factors, something as simple as a change in ambient temperature through the supply chain can result in a sufficient build in pressure to cause a leak," said Mr. Emmanuel.

Looking to the future, Mr. Emmanuel said there needs to be wider industry analysis of incidents and accompanied by knowledge sharing, so that lessons can be widely learned. There should be a continuous review and identification of risks together with greater transparency within the supply chain, as both its complexity increases and the nature of its environment evolves. Finally, there must be a greater emphasis on training.

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