What are the hazards associated with loading of sulphur ?


A research report on the properties of formed sulphur was produced in 1989 by Alberta Sulphur Research Ltd., focussing on whether formed sulphur was a flammable solid within the meaning of the IMDG Code (IMO International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code) Class 4.1: Flammable Solids definition.

The result of tests included in the report led to the following declaration from the Canadian Coastguard on 7 August 1989 that: “Based upon the results of the tests, as submitted, it is agreed that formed sulphur does not meet the criteria for classification in Class 4.1.”


When sulphur is loaded, any retained free water filters to the bottom of the holds during the voyage. From there it is pumped out via the bilges. Some water remains on the tank tops, and together with the fines, produces a sulphurous mud.

There are two processes whereby a corrosion reaction can occur, namely

  • Acidic and
  • Electrochemical corrosion.

Gas emissions

  • Hydrogen sulphide:

 There are circumstances during the passage and after discharge whereby bulk sulphur can emit small quantities of hydrogen sulphide gas. All areas in which sulphur is stowed or used or which require the presence of personnel should therefore be thoroughly ventilated.

  • Sulphur dioxide

Masters should also be aware of the possibility that sulphur dioxide may be generated during repairs involving heating/ welding in spaces previously exposed to sulphur. Appropriate safety measures should be taken.


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