Accident in the Pacific Shows the Importance of Declaring Dangerous Goods

By January 18, 2021 IMDG

The importance to declare dangerous goods is something that is etched in our minds.  There are many reasons why properly declaring dangerous goods is so important. In the worst likely scenario in the event of an accident, properly declaring dangerous goods makes first responders and bystanders aware of potential hazards to their health and the environment. Recently an unfortunate occurrence took place in the Pacific, where a vessel containing dangerous goods was in an accident and because dangerous goods were declared properly, authorities were able to warn nearby vessels of possible debris.

What Happened? 

A few weeks ago, it was reported that 1,900 containers fell off a Japanese-flagged ship during rough weather off the coast of Hawaii. The severe weather conditions caused the vessel to roll heavily and send containers into the Pacific Ocean, some of these containers were carrying dangerous goods. This prompted the Coast Guard to warn mariners there may be more debris than usual at sea.  

The containers were lost and it is reported that up to 64 of them were believed to contain various dangerous goods. Some of the verified dangerous goods included batteries, liquid ethanol, and fireworks. Officials have not yet been able to locate all of these containers as some may possibly have been spread across the Pacific Ocean. The vessel is currently heading back to its origin in Japan where a full audit will be completed to determine the exact number of containers and cargo that were damaged or missing.  

Why Declaring Dangerous Goods is Important

In addition to avoiding fines and potentially halting your shipments, declaring dangerous goods properly can potentially save lives and reduce damage to the environment.  Using this recent accident as an example, because the various dangerous goods were declared, officials were able to warn nearby vessels to avoid containers floating around that may contain dangerous goods. In addition, if the containers are found and need to be collected or cleaned up, it advises officials of what’s inside and how to properly handle the cargo. An important piece of the puzzle when declaring dangerous goods properly is filling out the shipper’s declarations correctly. These forms help to clearly identify the dangerous goods that are aboard vessels, vehicles, and aircrafts. Being able to properly identify the dangerous goods in packaging and storage containers assists handlers and officials in separating certain dangerous goods from each other as well as cleaning up a spill after an accident. Here at ICC The Compliance Center we can provide you with shippers declarations as well as training on how to properly fill them out. Please contact us for more information. 

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Michael Zendano

Michael Zendano

Michael Zendano started with ICC Compliance Center back in 2016 with several years in the packaging field as a Quality Control Manager. In addition, he has 8 years experience in teaching. Michael works at the Niagara Falls Office as the Regulatory Packaging Expert where he manages packaging projects and procedures and is a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP) and The Chemical Packaging Committee (CPC) . Degrees: M.S. Science of Education.