Thirty years ago, environmental considerations in the transport of dangerous goods were beginning to emerge more strongly. That change in attitude was driven in no small part by a number of major environmental disasters, not least the wreck of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in 1989, which prompted the passing of the Oil Pollution Act 1990 in the US, and the explosion and fire aboard the tanker Mega Borg off Galveston in June 1990.
HCB’s August 1990 issue reflected that shift, with a special report on oil tankers focusing on moves at the IMO designed to head off unilateral action by states (not least the US), with proposals not just for the improvement of the existing liability and compensation regimes but also changes to vessel design, not least the mandatory use of double hulls. As usual, there was push-back from the shipping industry, fearing the costs involved, as well as from some safety experts who felt that double hull designs just provide an additional space for potentially explosive atmospheres to gather.
Environmental considerations were also focusing attention on the potential for rail transport to offer a cleaner way to move liquids in bulk in Europe, while also helping to reduce road congestion – and in anticipation of the opening up of transport options given the impending arrival of the European single market. The August 1990 issue provided a roundup of recent activity among the continent’s main tank wagon lessors – a list led by Brambles-owned CAIB and VTG, then still part of Preussag.
The shift towards what in today’s parlance might be termed ‘sustainable transport’ had been given a further boost by the growing realisation of the costs involved in having accidents, whether or not those accidents involved environmental pollution. An interesting section in the August 1990 issue looked at insurance in the transport of dangerous goods, beginning with an interview with Robert Godden, manager of the marine division of ICI’s in-house insurance company. He noted that improvements over many years in the way that dangerous goods had been handled, stored and transported meant that very few major insurance claims had come forward. He was, however, concerned about the potential for new and more restrictive legislation appearing in Europe and elsewhere, which would inevitably lead to higher costs for dealing with accidents.
John Nicholls, a director of Through Transport Mutual Services – now TT Club – looked in particular at claims arising from the use of tank containers. He enumerated the ways in which any accident involving dangerous goods can generate liabilities and, particularly for tank operators, the various third party liabilities involved. His article also gave a lucid and brief explanation of the mysterious ‘general average’ concept applied to goods caught up in an accident at sea.
By way of explanation, Nicholls provided a few recent examples, covering such aspects as fraudulent claims, inadvertently overheated cargo, domestic haulage laws in Africa, and the results of a leaking tank on a vessel during passage through the Panama Canal. He warned in particular of claims in the US, especially those involving bodily injury, as juries hearing such cases can respond emotionally. Recent coverage in the pages of HCB on the work of TT Club and the problems it finds in the transport chain show that some things don’t really change.[post_title] => 30 Years Ago: August 1990 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 30-years-ago-august-1990 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-07-27 13:27:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-07-27 12:27:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://hcblive.com/?p=24809 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )