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Statutory Documents - IMO Publications and Documents - International Codes - CTU Code - IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units - Chapter 12. Advice on receipt and unpacking of CTUs

Chapter 12. Advice on receipt and unpacking of CTUs

 Note: For further information see annex 5.

12.1 General precautions

12.1.1 When applicable the consignee or the receiver of a CTU should check whether the unit is externally in good condition, and not significantly distorted, cracked or bent. If such damage is found, the receiver should document and notify it to the CTU operator. Specific attention should be paid to damage that may have influenced the condition of the cargo within the unit.

12.1.2 Where a seal number is stated on the transport documentation, the seal should be checked. If the reference number on the seal differs from the documentation or if the seal appears to be damaged or is missing, this could indicate that the CTU has been opened during transport. In such case the CTU operator should be contacted.

12.1.3 If a CTU shows signs of abnormally high temperatures it should be moved to a safe place and the fire services notified. Care should be taken to ensure that the fire-fighting methods used are suitable for the cargo in the unit.

12.1.4 Persons opening a CTU should be aware of the risk of cargo falling out (for details see annex 5, section 6).

12.1.5 CTUs with substances used for cooling or conditioning purposes present a particular risk of a toxic or asphyxiant atmosphere (see paragraphs 11.2.2 and 11.2.3). Before opening the doors, it should be ascertained by measurement that no harmful atmosphere is present in the CTU.

12.1.6 Some cargoes may emit harmful fumes. Especially after long sea voyages, it has been repeatedly realized that apparently non-hazardous goods such as shoes, textile products, furniture or the like emit harmful substances to an extent making the atmosphere in the CTU dangerous. Care should be taken not to come into contact with the internal atmosphere when opening the doors. Therefore, any CTU should be ventilated before allowing personnel to enter, preferably by mechanically forced ventilation. If this is not available, the doors should be opened for a period of time enough to allow the internal atmosphere to regularize with the ambient.

12.1.7 CTUs that are fumigated should be properly marked. On occasion, marks may become obliterated or lost during transport. As CTUs may then not be appropriately marked, the doors and vents should be checked. Tape applied to door gaskets or to the vents may indicate the risk of fumigant presence.

12.1.8 If there is a particular reason to suspect damage to packages with dangerous goods, expert advice should be sought before unpacking of the unit starts. When possible, a safety data sheet (SDS) should be required from the consignor, to determine appropriate measures and necessary personal protection equipment.

 12.2 Unpacking a CTU

12.2.1 For the positioning of a CTU, section 8.3 applies. Where access to the roof of the CTU is required, e.g. to remove the canvas of an open top unit, mobile steps or a gantry platform should be provided. Access to the doors of a CTU should be made by using ramps or platforms if required (see subsection 8.3.3).

12.2.2 Persons opening CTUs should be aware of the risk of cargo falling out. To reduce the risk of personal injury from shifted cargo coming out when doors are opened, the use of a safety strap is encouraged. The strap should be secured around the inner locking rods of a CTU to minimize the free movement of the door which is first opened. Movement of the cargo within sheeted CTUs may also present a risk to those opening the side curtains of open sided units.

12.2.3 Suitable unpacking equipment and techniques should be used (see annex 7, section 3.3), so that persons involved are not placed at risk.

12.2.4 When removing lashing or blocking devices or other cargo securing material, care should be taken to ensure that cargo items do not move when released. The valves of inflatable dunnage bags should be opened and the air released.

12.2.5 It should be considered that items with low friction such as piles of steel plates may suddenly shift and that unstable items may topple when retaining straps are removed.

12.2.6 When any damage to the cargo is detected during the unloading of the CTU, this should be documented and notified to the carrier and/or CTU operator and shipper, as appropriate. If a package containing dangerous goods is found to be so damaged that the contents leak out, the immediate area should be evacuated until the hazard potential has been assessed. When possible, a safety data sheet (SDS) should be requested from the consignor, to determine appropriate measures and necessary personal protection equipment.

12.3 Returning the unpacked CTU

12.3.1 Upon unpacking the CTU, it may in agreement with the CTU operator either be returned to the CTU operators' facility or transported to a new consignor/packer/shipper. Under either scenario, unless otherwise agreed, the consignee is responsible for ensuring that the CTU is completely clean, free of cargo residues, noxious materials, plants, plant products and visible pests.

12.3.2 When disposing of cargo residues and cargo associated waste, the applicable environmental regulations should be considered. Wherever practicable, dunnage bags and other securing materials should be recycled. When wood quarantine requirements apply, timber bracings and packing/securing material of natural wood, not bearing the appropriate IPPC marking, (see annex 7, section 1.14) should be disposed of as required by national or local plant protection regulations.

12.3.3 After a CTU with dangerous goods has been unpacked, particular care should be taken to ensure that no hazard remains. This may require special cleaning, particularly if spillage of a toxic or corrosive substance has occurred or is suspected. In case of doubt with regard to appropriate cleaning measures, the CTU operator should be contacted.

12.3.4 All placards and other markings referring to the last shipment, including, where applicable, markings referring to dangerous goods, should be removed, masked or otherwise obliterated.


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