In recent months we have assisted in a number of cases involving the carriage of Palm Kernel Shells (PKS). PKS is a natural by-product of palm oil processing and does not yet appear in the IMSBC code and are therefore carried under section 1.3 of the code. The cargo has self-heating properties but submissions to the IMO for inclusion as a Group B cargo have not yet been approved.
In recent cases the moisture content was usually reported in the range of 20% to 25% but in practice was much higher. This meant a higher risk of self-heating and gas emissions which in turn meant greater risks for the vessel and crew during the voyage. We recommend that members always request the cargo information well in advance of the vessels arrival including the Shippers Declaration to allow the member to check the contents and perform additional testing if necessary. The shippers often refuse to provide this information on the basis that the cargo is non-hazardous but we recommend that members insist that this information be provided to allow the vessel to check the characteristics of the cargo.
The BIMCO has published a number of recommendations in respect of the carriage of PKS which can be accessed via: https://www.bimco.org/news/cargo/20170207_palm_kernel_shells and include the following safety measures:
- Request cargo information in accordance with section 1.3 of the IMSBC Code.
- Monitor the cargo surface temperature at the time of loading. The cargo should be accepted for loading only if the temperature does not exceed 55°C and the moisture content does not exceed 11%.
- Measure and record methane, oxygen and carbon monoxide levels during the voyage with a gas meter operating on either infrared or thermal conductivity. Catalytic sensors do not operate correctly below ~10% oxygen.
- Ventilate cargo spaces immediately if methane levels exceed 1% by volume of 20% LEL.
- Ventilation is the most important prevention measure. If the emissions from the cargo increase expert assistance should be sought.
- Ban smoking, welding and use of naked flames on deck while the cargo is on board.
- Do not permit personnel to enter the cargo holds and spaces adjacent to the cargo holds unless a proper risk assessment has been carried out and a permit for entry into an enclosed space has been issued.
- Apply water and/or CO2 in the event of a fire in the hold, as both are considered as suitable extinguishing media for the cargo. Keep in mind that that the accumulation of gas may pose a fire hazard.
In the event of any specific questions we invite our Members to contact NNPC through firstname.lastname@example.org.