The risks of undeclared or incorrectly declared goods are an increasing concern for shipping companies and their insurance companies, as fires and explosions aboard cargo ships continue to lead to large losses.
But this long-standing problem is one that affects the entire marine, aviation and transport sector and requires continuous focus on risk management and safety practices, including refusal to transport suspected goods in some cases, experts say.
Cargo that was incorrectly declared, including incorrect labeling and packaging of dangerous goods, is thought to be a cause of several fires, according to a report by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE.
This problem is exacerbated by larger ships, which can make problems more difficult to detect, locate and combat, said Allianz in its security and freight survey 201
A new chemical explosion and fire on a Korea Marine Transport Co. Ltd. container ships in the port of Laem Chabang in Thailand May 25 will probably have started in a box containing calcium hypochlorite, which has caused several ship fires in recent years.
"This is a problem. As last seen in Thailand (where a) it seems that the container fire fire / explosion is tied to a depleted cargo," says Andrew Kinsey, senior risk consultant at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty in New York.
"We shouldn't talk about putting a fire on containers, we have to look to prevent the cargo from ever coming to port," Kinsey says.
"The problem really begins with goods that are not properly declared because they fly under the radar and they must be properly registered. These are dangerous raw materials that we are not aware of that are on board our vessels," says Ken Rohlmann, senior manager. dangerous goods at Hapag-Lloyd AG in Hamburg, Germany.
"The general relationship between undeclared goods to container ships capacity is 0.059%. So, for example, if a port has a container supplement of 20 million TEU, about 12,000 containers are not properly declared," says Rohlmann.
Fraud is a problem in most cases where dangerous goods are not declared said.
To minimize the risks, Hapag-Lloyd developed an advanced cargo screening software, known as Cargo Patrol 2012, which scans twice daily the booking documents for all cargo that has not been declared as dangerous goods, he said.  "We have a team of five experts who are making further inquiries about these bookings … Any suspected booking that investigators put in wait may not be transported on until the investigations are completed," says Rohlmann.
Lloyd finds evidence that the documentation is deceptive, it refuses the consignment and leaves the container behind, he said. cargo screening tools can accept the booking without knowing that dangerous goods are inside, he says.
This is a problem affecting the entire shipping, aviation and transport sector, experts say.
"Everyone who participates in the transport risks becoming black goods, whether it is the airline industry, freight, road, truck or rail," says Rohlmann.
The shipping, aviation and transport sector deteriorates $ 0.5 billion of avoidable losses each year, according to Risk Director Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club Mutual Insurance Ltd., UK.
"It's not just about fires and explosions, it's trucks in general that are poorly packed or cause damage that can be avoided," says Mr. Storrs-Fox.
As a result of the supply chain industry, an economic loss arises on Over $ 6 billion annually due to avoidable losses, said  This year, there have been five major fire and explosion incidents, including the May container ship explosion in Thailand.
While the cause is not fully known at every incident " the clear attribution has been against things that have become inexplicable or incorrect. It is definitely a maritime problem and one that causes many of us problems, he says.
As some shipping companies seem to increase inspections on freight containers, TT Club has urged the International Maritime Organization to strengthen this process. 19659002] "Even a large number of inspections are insignificant. That's a problem," says Mr. Storrs-Fox.
National Cargo Bureau Inc. is currently inspecting a selection of 500 incoming and export containers to and from US ports as part of a initiative with freight companies including AP Moeller Maersk A / S and other members of the cargo incident system, according to Ian Lennard, president of the New York-based National Cargo Bureau.
"Compared to all containers transported with dangerous goods and public trucks, this is not a lot, but it will shed some light on what happens, says mr. Lennard.
"There have always been container fires but there seems to be a lot more consistency in the number and duration of fires. It's more than just a blip," he said.
There are many reasons why the cargo is black or incorrectly declared or secured, according to Lennard.
"Sometimes there are tax issues; other times, a certain cargo is prohibited either by a port or a line, and it tends to drive the cargo underground and it gets beaten so it can still go out," he said.
"The idea is to try to grasp what happens and better understand why and what happens and maybe we can take some corrective measures," says Lennard.
The inspections will be completed in the next two weeks, and the results will be announced afterwards, he said.