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Hazards of carrying sulpher cargo in bulk and countermeasures

Sulphur has certain properties; corrosion and the emission of certain gases. A copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be requested from the shipper prior to loading the cargo. This will outline the characteristics of the cargo as well as any specific precautions to be followed during handling and carriage.

This makes it essential that proper precautions are taken regarding the safe handling and carriage of this cargo. . All cargo holds must be suitably prepared prior to loading as follows:
Sulphur cargo
Fig: Hold of a bulk Sulphur cargo

The Code of Safe Working Practices for Solid Bulk Cargoes states that materials which present corrosive hazards of such intensity as to affect either human tissue or the ship’s structure should only be loaded after adequate precautions and protecting measures have been taken.

Many stock piles of sulphur can contain a significant amount of moisture, particularly those stock piles that are left in the open air. The reaction between sulphur, water and steel can be minimised by a physical barrier such as lime washing. Therefore an additional precaution should be to lime-wash the holds after the preparation of the holds has been carried out as per the above. This may be carried out by the ship’s crew, or by contractors, depending on the terms of the charter party.

In any case the charterers should be asked for guidance. If no guidance is received, a general recommendation is that 60Kg of lime is used in 200 litres of water and the solution should be sprayed to all surfaces that are going to be in contact with the sulphur. Seawater should not be used for cleaning as the presence of sodium chloride will increase the reaction between sulphur and steel.

As mentioned above, some sulphur cargoes can have large moisture content and it is therefore important that the bilge system is fully functioning, soundings regularly taken and bilges pumped as required.

After the cargo has been discharged, fresh water should be used to clean the holds in preparation for the next cargo and to flush through the bilge system.

There is a possibility that during carriage and after discharge that sulphur can emit small but measurable quantities of hydrogen sulphide gas. This gas is dangerous to personnel and it is therefore important to ensure that cargo holds are vented whenever possible. Before entry into a space containing or having contained sulphur, the space must be thoroughly vented and the atmosphere tested prior to entry.

PPE must be used as appropriate and kept dry at all times when handling sulphur or using equipment used for handling sulphur. Information regarding the safe carriage of hazardous cargos/ substances can be found in the IMDG code book which stands for the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code. Volumes of this code will be found on the bridge. Along with the IMDG code book is a supplement which gives you information such as emergency procedures, fire-fighting techniques, medical first aid, packing, etc, for the various grade hazardous Sulphur that are carried.

Hazards of sulphur more safety precautions

Failed pipes cause, or contribute to, many serious claims onboard.Pipe failure will only be prevented by a proactive approach to inspection, maintenance and repair.

Bulk Sulphur was damaged when water escaped from a topside ballast tank via a sounding pipe that passed through the tank into the hold below. The pipe was cracked and holed inside the ballast tank which contained saltwater ballast and water drained from the tank into the hold. Cost – $380,000. Damaged sounding pipes are easily identified during inspections and repairs are inexpensive.

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Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us

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