The Indian Shipping Ministry ordered all major port authorities to strictly implement new measures to improve the security and handling of hazardous materials, the ministry said.
The measures, suggested by a port security expert committee, were sought after the July 14, 2010 chlorine gas leak at the Port of Mumbai.
The committee, headed by the joint secretary for ports, presented its report to the government last week. One suggested measure included a ban on handling hazardous shipments during night hours.
“All hazardous cargo would be handled during daylight hours only. Direct delivery of dangerous or hazardous cargo is to be resorted to, rather than storage of such cargo within port premises,” it said.
In its report, the committee said all hazmat import shipments should be taken from the ship’s hook under “customs escort” direct to the consignee’s bonded warehouse. “For export cargo, all customs formalities need to be carried out by the exporter while such hazardous cargo may be transported when the ship is at the berth and loaded directly onto the vessel just prior to sailing.”
It also said if inbound cargoes are not cleared within seven days after arrival in the dock, the concerned ship agent will be responsible for shipping such consignments back to the “country of export-origin” within seven days thereafter. Similarly, if export consignments are not shipped within two days of carting to the port, clearing agents will account and remain liable for transportation of such cargoes back from port premises within two days.
“The recommendations have been sent to all the port trusts in the country and no lapses will be tolerated,” the ministry said.
Following the mishap at Mumbai, which left more than 100 people hospitalized, the port administration Sept. 6 imposed a ban on shipment of all hazardous cargoes listed under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.
Mumbai is one of India’s largest maritime gateways, having racked up a record cargo throughput of 54.5 million tons in fiscal 2009-10.