Are Ocean Carriers Refusing Hazmat Shipments?

Posted on 9/21/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

Today, hazardous materials shippers face a dearth of cargo containers, long delays for ships waiting outside of ports for loading and unloading, a disruption in schedules, and rising transportation prices. Now, chemical distributors have expressed concerns about systemic reductions for transporting hazardous materials by vessel and the possibility of carriers refusing to book chemical shipments.

These distributors purchase chemical products from foreign manufacturers and sell them to customers in the US. Many of these chemicals are not manufactured domestically. The chemicals are used as ingredients, intermediates, catalysts, reagents and more to produce a wide variety goods. 

At a recent meeting of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), Commissioner Carl Bentzel responded to shippers concerns: 
“Given the potential implications of systemic refusals by shipping lines, I am urging that we broaden the scope of the Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit Program to include review of whether there have been any systemic decisions by ocean carriers to discriminate against hazardous materials transportation. Such a review could be conducted within the existing audit program and will make FMC oversight more focused and thorough during this volatile time.”

Full Statement (September 2, 2021) 

The FMC plans to address the ability of shippers, truckers, and other stakeholders to seek reparations for violations of the Shipping Act–including conduct related to demurrage (i.e., payment to the owner of a ship when loading or unloading is delayed) and detention.

FMC will develop a policy statement to serve as guidance for industry stakeholders and plans to request input on a potential rulemaking to address the issues.   

Full Statement (September 15, 2021) 

Why Would a Carrier Refuse Hazmat?

Why might vessel carriers prefer not to carry hazmat? There may be several reasons:
  • Hazardous materials require cautious handling that can slow loading and unloading operations;
  • They may wish to avoid the strict separation, segregation, and stowage requirements associated with hazmat;
  • If their employees are not handling hazmat, they can eliminate DOT hazmat training and documentation mandates; or
  • They may be prioritizing preferential clients while space and sailing frequency are limited.

What Does the Law Say?

The Common Carrier Code in 46 U.S.C. §41104 prohibits carriers from unreasonably refusing to deal or negotiate (see paragraph (a)(10)).

The General Prohibitions at 46 U.S.C.§ 41102(c) state: A common carriermay not fail to establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices relating to or connected with receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

Complete Multimodal Hazmat Training

Lion delivers hazmat employee training designed to simplify compliance with the latest 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code regulations that shippers must know.

Train online, join us for an instructor-led webinar, or attend the Multimodal Hazmat Shipper Certification Workshops in 2021. Get your certificate and be confident that your shipments will be accepted for transport by ground, air, or vessel.  

Find your course at 

Tags: chemicals, hazardous materials, hazmat vessel shipping, IMDG Code

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

One of the best trainings I have ever received!

Brandon Morfin

EH&S Manager

The instructor kept the class engaged and made learning fun. There was a lot of information to cover but time flew by. I will definitely use Lion in the future!

Chelsea Minguela

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Lion courses always set the bar for content, reference, and practical application. Membership and access to the experts is an added bonus.

John Brown, CSP

Director of Safety & Env Affairs

I have been to other training companies, but Lion’s material is much better and easier to understand.

Mark Abell

Regional Manager

Lion was very responsive to my initial questions and the website was user friendly.

Michael Britt

Supply Chain Director

This was the 1st instructor that has made the topic actually enjoyable and easy to follow and understand. Far better than the "other" training providers our company has attended!

Lori Hardy

Process & Resource Administrator

These are the best commercial course references I have seen (10+ years). Great job!

Ed Grzybowski

EHS & Facility Engineer

I really enjoyed this training. Even after years on both sides of the comprehension coin, I find myself still learning! The quality of the delivery exceeded much of the training I have received in the past.

Neil Ozonur

Safety Officer

The online course was well thought out and organized, with good interaction between the student and the course.

Larry Ybarra

Material Release Agent

This training broke down the regulations in an easy-to-understand manner and made them less overwhelming. I now feel I have the knowledge to make more informed decisions.

Amanda Oswald

Shipping Professional

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

This report details major changes for hazardous waste generators from US EPA’s Generator Improvements Rule, as well as the latest updates from states that are still working to adopt new, stricter Federal requirements.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.