Many of us remember the horrifying images from the disasters in the ports of Tianjin and Beirut vividly. The explosions of chemical products stored in the terminals had terrifying consequences; hundreds of lives were lost, thousands were displaced, and the costs amounted to billions of dollars.

Maersk identified that there was a potential for improving safety by creating more awareness concerning storage of dangerous goods in warehouses. This was confirmed by both IMO and EU.

With the ambition to produce a whitepaper within a year of the Beirut incident, four industry bodies were rapidly identified, and the work commenced.

Now the group of industry associations including WSC has drafted a whitepaper regarding the handling of dangerous goods. While there is much legislation concerning the handling of dangerous goods at sea and for landside transportation, there is still a need for legislation on the transportation, handling and storage of such goods as chemicals, explosives or flammables in ports, terminals and inland warehousing facilities.

And while the incidents and Beirut and Tianjin were the most noticeable in the last decade, dozens of smaller incidents happen every year around the globe.

In introducing the white paper, Uffe V Ernst-Frederiksen and Ken Rohlmann both of International Vessel Operators Dangerous Goods Association (IVODGA) highlight:

The temporary or long-term storage of dangerous goods in a facility, necessitates careful planning, supervision and continued due diligence. While the major disasters in Beirut and Tianjin have been widely reported, there are many other incidents around the globe that do not garner the same attention, but which have the potential to escalate. There are existing international, national and local regulations for dangerous goods in transit for various modes of transport but there is no direct equivalent for warehouses.

Uffe V Ernst-Frederiksen and Ken Rohlmann,
International Vessel Operators Dangerous Goods Association (IVODGA)

Along with the whitepaper comes a 14-page checklist, which offers practical guidance for those responsible for the storage and consolidation of dangerous goods. The detailed checklist goes through issues such as security for storage facilities, training and induction of personnel, emergency response and security systems. As an example, a recent report has shown that theft from warehouses accounted for almost one quarter of all global cargo theft in 2020.

Uffe V. Ernst Frederiksen, who also acts as Head of Cargo Standards at A. P. Moeller - Maersk adds:

It is our hope that this checklist not only will lead to fewer incidents around the globe, but also work as a catalyst for a safer work culture and heightened awareness around dangerous goods facilities.

Uffe V. Ernst Frederiksen
Head of Cargo Standards at A. P. Moeller - Maersk

Besides offering guidance and advice on the security of dangerous goods, the whitepaper and checklist also offer help to contain any consequences in the event of an incident.