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South Korea ministry develops IT system to tackle misdeclared goods

South Korea’s Ministry of Ocean Affairs and Fisheries (MOF) will establish a computer system that identifies dangerous goods in containers that may be undeclared, in order to eliminate the risk of fires and explosions.

MOF said on 13 February 2020 that it plans to conduct joint inspections with Korea Customs to eliminate undeclared dangerous goods that are placed in containers.

“The volume of dangerous goods that is imported in containers has increased by 6.3% annually in the last five years. It is therefore necessary to strengthen safety management,” said the ministry.

The computer system will be established by April and identifies undeclared dangerous goods by scanning for inconsistencies in the information submitted to the port authorities.

Suspicious containers will then be reported to the MOF and Korea Customs which will then jointly inspect the cargoes.

Typical declarations include a description of the goods and the flash point of the cargoes concerned.

MOF said: “We will share information with the government agencies of exporting countries to prevent shippers from misdeclaring dangerous goods as general cargoes.

“Containers holding dangerous goods should be kept in a humid and well-ventilated place or spaced at a certain distance between dangerous goods, depending on the nature of the cargo. However, if dangerous goods are falsely declared as a general cargo and safety management is not properly implemented, fire and explosion accidents may occur through chemical reactions.”

Undeclared cargoes of calcium hypochlorite and chlorinated paraffin wax are thought to have caused an explosion and fire on KMTC Hongkong, a container ship owned by South Korean feeder operator Korea Marine Transport Company, in Thailand’s Laem Chabang port on 25 May 2019.

An inspection of 35 containers at the centre of the flames showed that more than half of the boxes contained chemical cargoes. The 1998-built 1,585TEU KMTC Hongkong was declared a total loss and scrapped in July 2019.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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