What are precautions while loading coal on ships ?

As per the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code states:

  1. Prior to loading, the shipper or his appointed agent should provide in writing to the Master the characteristics of the cargo and the recommended safe handling; procedures for loading and transport of the cargo.
  2. Bilge wells should be cleaned, residual cargoes removed, suction tested and covered with taped down double wrapped burlap.
  3. No naked lights or smoking must be allowed in or near a coal carrying compartment.
  4. electrical wiring in the compartment disconnected or sheathed in heavy gauge screwed steel conduit.
  5. The fire fighting equipment should be available for immediate use at all times when loading and on passage.
  6. .Vessels fitted with fixed CO2 systems should blow through the lines using compressed air prior to commencement of loading to ensure that all cargo holds are well covered by the CO2 system.
  7. The smoke detection equipment must be continuously operated and monitored regularly.
  8. The vessel should be suitably equipped with appropriate instruments for measuring of the following without requiring entry in the cargo space:
    • concentration of methane in the atmosphere;
    • concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere;
    • concentration of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere; and
    • pH value of cargo hold bilge samples.
  9. When loading in the hatch square using chutes, extra boards should be provided in the hold to prevent damage to the tank top plating.
  10. Deck houses and other compartments on deck may collect methane and must be well ventilated at all times.
  11. Prior to loading, the temperature of this cargo shall be monitored.  This cargo shall only be accepted for loading when the temperature of the cargo is not higher than 55oC.
  12. The absorption of oxygen from the air by the coal leads to oxidation and the evolution of more methane and heat generation. The cargo must therefore not receive through ventilation, but generous surface ventilation must be provided to quickly remove any evolved gas and keep the cargo cool. Hatch covers may be opened during suitable weather to assist this.
  13. Only intrinsically safe torches and other equipment may be used in or near coal compartments.
Points to pounder while loading cargo:
  • The material safety data sheet (MSDS) must be kept in proper place ( fire plans, CCR, Bridge ,manifold/ ship boarding ) prior to loading.
  • The precautions that need to be taken depend upon the information provided.

Example:-  if the cargo is liable to emit methane, then the Master should refer to the IMDG Code to obtain the loading, stowage and carriage information.

Small Coal
Contains particles of coal less than 7 mm in size; small coal is likely to develop a flow state due to its high moisture content.
According to IMO classification, coal is considered MHB. Three characteristics of coal need to be considered: 

1 Comment

Leave a Comment