The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code was adopted in 1965 as per the SOLAS (Safety for Life at Sea) Convention of 1960. The IMDG Code was formed to prevent all types of pollutions at sea. The code also ensures that the goods transported through marine transport are packaged in such a way that they can be safely transported. The dangerous goods code is a uniform code. This means that the code is applicable for all cargo-carrying ships around the world.
The dangerous goods code has been created as per the recommendations of the United Nations’ panel of expert on transport of dangerous goods along with the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). This recommendation by the UN was presented as a report in the year 1956 after which the IMDG Code was started to be drafted in the year 1961.
Since marine transportation has undergone a lot of development and changes, it becomes important that the code also keeps up with the changes. This is why there have been constant amendments to the code. The amendments are proposed every two years and the adoption of the amendments takes place after two years of the proposal by the concerned authorities. The amendments are proposed in this manner:
- The countries that are members of the IMO present the required proposal
- The UN’s expert panel then views and decides what proposals merit immediate attention in the upcoming amendment
Shipping Dangerous Cargo
Shipping dangerous goods is very tricky. This is why in order to avoid complications and problems while categorising the aspect and level of danger, there is a set of classification of the dangerous goods. There are nine categories in which the dangerous goods are classified. The same can be explained as follows:
- Classification I is for explosives. The same classification has six sub-divisions like materials which pose high explosive risk, low explosive risk to name a few
- Classification II is for gases. This category has three sub-categories that talk about gases that are highly inflammable, that are not inflammable and gases that neither inflammable nor toxic
- Classification III is for liquids and has no sub-divisions
- Classification IV is for solids. There are three sub-categories that deal with highly combustible solids, self-reactive solids and solids that when interact with water could emit toxic gases
- Classification V is for substances that have the chances of oxidisation
- Classification VI is for all kinds of substances that are toxic and that could prove to be infective
- Classification VII is specifically for materials that are radioactive
- Classification VIII is for materials that face the threat of corrosion and erosion
- Classification IX is for those substances that cannot be classified under any of the above heads but still are dangerous goods
At present the reach of the IMDG Code extends to about 150 countries around the world with around 98% ships following the requirements of the code. This figure helps us to understand the effectiveness of the code with respect to shipping dangerous goods across the oceans and the marine life-forms that exist in them.