Transport of lithium-ion batteries by sea has sparked concern over container fires. The Lithium-ion Batteries in Containers Guidelines seek to prevent the increasing risks that this transport creates, providing suggestions for identifying such risks and thereby helping to ensure a safer supply chain in the future.

Together with its partners, the Cargo Incident Notification System Network (CINS) has compiled a comprehensive publication covering the properties of these batteries and their potential to explode, initiate fires and emit toxic gases.
Extensive measures to safely transport what is an exponentially increasing volume of lithium-ion batteries, in their various states of charge and when also contained in electronic devices are fully examined. This includes aspects such as classification and regulation, container packing, landside storage, stowage on board ships, incident detection and fire suppression, and loss prevention and risk mitigation.

‘We strongly urge all stakeholders in the production, supply, transport, handling and sale of lithium-ion batteries whether as individual components or integrated into an electronic device, vehicle or other product to recognise their responsibilities in maximising safety when in transit,’ comments Dirk Van de Velde, who is Deputy Chair of CINS and a board member of the association of cargo handlers, ICHCA. ‘Our Guidelines will create greater awareness of the possibilities of the damaging and life-threatening incidents, which have already occurred, and instil more urgent motivation to act before more catastrophic disasters result.’

Also read: Major shipping carriers target cargo fires and losses together

First of four documents

Intended as the first of an on-going series of publications to be updated as circumstances require, this first, Lithium-ion Batteries in Containers Guidelines (101.A), provides a general overview, and will be followed by three further documents – regulatory compliance check-lists, risk assessment and emergency response, and training and educational awareness. Stakeholders in the supply chain are encouraged to implement the advice according to their specific operations and requirements, but to always keep safety of life as their primary consideration.

Mark Smith, Loss Prevention Executive NorthStandard, International Group of P&I Clubs’ representative: ‘As our experience of transporting lithium-ion batteries widens and the technology surrounding their chemical composition, production and application rapidly evolves, risk controls and loss prevention measures need to keep pace. The work encapsulated in these Guidelines will, of necessity, continue and be undertaken in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to increase our knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by carriage of lithium–ion batteries in containers by sea. This publication follows on from a very successful one-day Conference held on 15th March by the IG P&I Clubs, CINS, TT Club to bring all parties together to discuss such risks and to share knowledge and experience of carriage across the logistics supply chain.’

The document can be reviewed in full HERE.

Also read: Ship fires not decreasing and still a major cause of total loss