Crowded Ports and a Container Shortage Spell Delays for Shippers

Posted on 6/17/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

Consumer spending on durable goods increased significantly during the first quarter of 2021. At the same time, pandemic-related production shutdowns and restrictions on international travel delayed the transportation of goods and disrupted the return of empty containers.

As a result, major ports are now crowded with containerships waiting to be unloaded. At the two busiest US ports—Los Angeles and Long Beach—imports are up 40% year-over-year. Vessels arriving to the Port of Los Angeles reportedly waited more than 6 days on average to unload and dock in the last days of May 2021.

These delays cause a domino effect. Some of today's containerships can carry more than 20,000 TEUs. The longer all of those full containers are stuck in port, the longer it takes for them to be unloaded, returned, refilled, and shipped again. 

With cargo space at a premium and deliveries delayed worldwide, compliance with domestic and international transportation regulations is integral to success—especially for hazardous materials shippers. Noncompliance with US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) or the IMDG Code will only add to the potential delays that shipments face this year.

Here are 5 common errors to avoid if you want to keep delays to a minimum:

1. Placarding containers. Unlike the DOT’s 49 CFR hazmat regulations, the IMDG Code requires containers to be placarded for subsidiary hazards. There is also no relief for quantities less than 1,001 lbs of Table 2 materials like there is for domestic transportation.

2. Improperly assembled overpacks. Overpacks containing incompatible dangerous goods or those that must be segregated onboard the ship in a conflicting way. The segregation category “away from” means something different than “separated from.”

3. Shipping paper errors. Shippers must be familiar with some key differences between the 49 CFR hazmat shipping paper requirements and the IMDG Code rules. Limited quantities of hazardous materials require shipping papers under the IMDG Code, for example, and shippers must indicate flash point for flammable materials. (Read more: Challenges for IMDG Hazmat Shipping Papers (2015))

4. Missing container/vehicle packing certificate. Those responsible for packing the container must specify its identification number and certify that it was loaded according to certain conditions specified in Chapter 5.4.

5. Undeclared dangerous goods. Some materials that are not regulated when shipped by ground are regulated when shipped by vessel. For example, dry cotton of a certain density is classified as a Division 4.1 flammable solid (UN 3360, Fibres, vegetable, dry).

Function-specific IMDG Code Training

The DOT authorizes shippers to comply with the current edition of the IMDG Code to ship hazardous materials by vessel (49 CFR 171.22).

To use the IMDG Code, shippers must provide hazmat employees with “function-specific” training related to the unique international regulations. To help shippers satisfy DOT and IMDG Code training mandates for employees who prepare and offer hazmat vessel shippers, Lion offers IMDG Code training for employees and shipping managers.

Hazmat Vessel Shipper Certification

Build on your 49 CFR expertise and develop a step-by-step procedure to ensure compliance with the latest IMDG Code requirements. 
Pre-requisite: Current 49 CFR hazmat training (see HMT 300). 

Shipping Hazmat by Vessel—Ops

This course provides function-specific training for shore-side personnel who package shipments, affix marks and labels, load or unload vehicles, and perform other hands-on hazmat job roles.
Pre-requisite: Current 49 CFR hazmat training (see HMT 218).

Tags: hazmat shipping, hazmat vessel shipping, IMDG Code

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