Provisions on the Supervision and Administration of Safety in Maritime Transport of Solid Bulk Cargo (Mainland China)

Di Wu

The Ministry of Transport recently issued the Provisions on the Supervision and Administration of Safety in Maritime Transport of Solid Bulk Cargo (the “Provisions”) to set out the general provisions, report management, administration of operations, personnel protection, accident prevention and supervision and administration.  The Provisions will go into effect on March 1, 2019 and include the following:

1. General provisions

The Provisions shall apply to the maritime transportation of solid bulk cargo within the seas of the People’s Republic of China. In addition, a vessel owner, operator or manager engaged in the transportation of solid bulk cargo shall, in accordance with the relevant regulations the Ministry of Transport, establish and implement a mechanism or set of rules for the safe operation of vessels and pollution control management, which shall include a set of procedures, instructions or management system for the transportation of solid bulk cargoes.

In addition, the transportation of solid bulk cargo by vessels shall comply with the technical safety specifications for stowage, isolation and transport of such cargo, and also satisfy the corresponding requirements in the fitness certificate or certification documentation. The owners, operators or managers of vessels shall cause all vessel personnel to undergo training and testing for handling solid bulk cargo to ensure that the personnel are familiar with their characteristics, operating procedures and emergency plans.

2. Reporting management

In terms of reporting, a vessel carrying non-Group B solid bulk cargo shall report to the maritime safety administration agency 24 hours before entering or leaving port. Where the voyage is less than 24 hours, a report shall be submitted before the departure from the previous port.  The report shall include the following information: (1) information on the vessel, such as the name, voyage, nationality, port of departure, port of discharge, site of operation, estimated port of entry and exit, and time of operation, and (2) information on the cargo, such as the name, group, class, UN number, total weight and loading position.  Group B solid bulk cargo refer to those categorized as Group B under the “Group” section in Schedule 1 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code or concurrently included in Group A and Group B cargoes.

A consignor of solid bulk cargo for transportation and delivery by vessel shall, before delivering the cargo as shipped, submit the cargo information to the carrier and report to the maritime safety administrative agency. The carrier shall examine the cargo information and shall refuse to carry any cargo that fails to meet the seaworthiness requirements.

3. Administration of operations

In terms of operations, before a vessel is loaded with solid bulk cargo, the carriage data and seaworthiness of the cargo shall be checked according to the vessel’s loading manual or stability materials. The cargo shall not be brought on board if noncompliance is found.  In addition, the Provisions also set out requirements regarding the “safety and pollution control procedure,” “loading and unloading plan,” “trimming of cargoes” and “loading and stowage.”

4. Protection of personnel and prevention of accidents

The Provisions also put forward specific safety operation requirements in the event the loaded cargo may release toxic or flammable gases or cause oxygen deficiency in the cargo hold.

5. Supervision and administration

Pursuant to the Provisions, if a marine administrative agency finds a potential safety concern with respect to a vessel transporting solid bulk cargo shall order such safety concern be eliminated immediately or within a stated period. If such safety concern is not eliminated immediately or within the stated period, the vessel will be prohibited from entering port or be ordered to leave the port, or the vessel may be ordered to be grounded, diverted, and ordered to suspension operations.  In addition, the port administrative department is also required as part of its duty to conduct supervision and administration over the storage, loading and unloading of solid bulk cargo at the port within its jurisdiction.  If any solid bulk cargo stored, loaded or unloaded by a port operator is found to raise a potential safety concern, the operator shall be ordered to eliminate that safety concern immediately or within a stated period.  If the order is not complied with, the operator may be ordered to suspend operations or be subject to other similar measures.

In addition, the Provisions specifically provide for “solid bulk cargo prone to liquefaction” and define the relevant technical terms. Enterprises involved in the maritime transportation of solid bulk cargo should stay apprised of developments to avoid compliance risks.