Sea transport for goods in bulk: MARPOL and IBC Code

The categorization of chemicals for shipment in bulk by sea does not follow the U.N. Model Recommendations (Orange Book). Chemicals shipped in sea-going tankers are regulated under MARPOL Convention and IBC Code.

The criteria defining safety hazards to the ship and crew are somewhat different from those of other regulations. They are typical of MARPOL 73/78 Annex II, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of 1973, modified by the protocol of 1978. It defines four categories of pollution, from the most severe (X) to the mildest (Z) and the category OS (Other Substances) which lists those chemicals not posing a pollution hazard.

IBC Code is the international code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous goods in bulk. This code is regularly amended to contain the revisions of MARPOL Annex II which include the pollution categorization system and criteria for assigning products to the appropriate category, and the revision of stripping requirements and discharge criteria. Those products revised and evaluated are included in Chapter 17 or 18 as appropriate.

The IBC Code assigns to each entry a set of minimum carriage conditions, covering the pollution category, ship and tank type (e.g., single or double containment), tank environmental control, gauging devices, fire-fighting media, electrical requirements, etc.

Reference is also made in this Code to the MEPC.2/Circulars issued annually in December.

MEPC.2/Circulars are published by IMO to cover details of products that have been the subject of Tripartite Agreement (for bulk marine shipments) and are, in effect, a supplement to the IBC Code during the interim period before the entry into force of the relevant amendments of the Code.

A future amendment, shown in the Circular, serves as prior notice of the carriage conditions which will only apply to that product when the next amendment of the Code enters into force.

MARPOL Annex II classification is legally required on section 14 of the SDS.

For further information on MARPOL and the IBC Code, click here.

Page glossary

  • Amendment
  • Classification
  • Effect
  • Hazard
  • IMO
  • Media
  • Orange Book
  • Pollution
  • Safety
  • SDS