The National Cargo Bureau (NCB) – a US based inspection body authorized to certify compliance with Dangerous Goods regulations – reports that evidence from numerous inspections over the past few years indicate that poorly stowed, undeclared and mis declared dangerous goods shipments continue to present a significant safety hazard and has launched a second container inspection initiative to determine just how prevalent the problem remains. 

Five years prior, NCB joined forces with industry leaders, Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, and CMA-CGM, in a trailblazing effort that laid bare the disconcerting realities within container transport safety. The analysis revealed that an unsettling 55% of inspected containers were non-compliant, with 43% failing due to poorly secured dangerous goods, and an astonishing 6.5% found to be carrying mis declared dangerous cargoes.

Subsequent inspections, performed by NCB, have continued to reveal poorly stowed containers as well as undeclared and mis declared shipments of dangerous goods such as charcoal, flammable liquids, and used lithium-Ion batteries.  A recent, targeted remote container inspection program conducted by NCB in South Africa for a major shipping line revealed a 74% failure rate due to non-compliant loads with 37% observed to be stuffed with mis declared and / or undeclared dangerous goods.

Ian Lennard, NCB President and CEO highlights:

“The correlation between containership fires and the presence of undeclared, mis declared, or inadequately stowed dangerous cargos is too profound to overlook. Given the imminent and substantial risk - foremost to human life, but also extending to the vessels, their cargoes, and the environment, it's imperative the industry continues to work together to improve safety by increasing cargo compliance.”

In a determined response to these sobering revelations and escalating concerns around ship fires, particularly those stemming from lithium-ion batteries, NCB is enhancing its inspection initiative. This novel approach will leverage both onsite and remote inspections, allowing for the efficient examination of containers anywhere in the world and linking customers directly with NCB's seasoned team of surveyors.

Several major shipping lines including Hapag Lloyd, Maersk, CMA CGM and MSC have committed to the initiative, and container inspections have already commenced in various locations around the world.  The initiative will continue to ramp up over the third quarter and all ocean carriers are invited to apply and take part.  NCB is encouraging broader participation from industry for a more comprehensive view on container risks globally.  Container inspections performed by NCB as part of the initiative are being offered to carriers free of charge.

NCB expects this second round of inspections to expose further container deficiencies but, hopefully, reveal improvements since the first initiative. The ultimate goal is to further magnify problems and recommend corrective actions for future safety improvements, driving an industry-wide shift towards a safer maritime environment

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