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AICM pledges help on shipping DG on Yangtze

28 March 2012
Dr Peter von Zumbusch, president of Wacker Greater China and chairman of Association of International Chemical Manufacturers, said that AICM members stand ready to exercise their duty of care and bring international best practices to the shipping of dangerous goods on the Yangtze.

In a speech to delegates at the Yangtze DG conference held in Shanghai on 22 March, Dr von Zumbusch listed AICM’s recent credentials including the implementation of the Road Safety Quality Assessment System (RSQAS) and emphasised the international community’s belief borne by scientific studies that inland shipping is the safest option for transporting dangerous goods.

Dr von Zumbusch made the speech after the keynote speaker, Mr Chen Zhengcai, Director of Transport and Safety from the Ministry of Transport, told the conference that China has a list of 335 extremely toxic substances banned on inland waterways, compared with 14 on the Rhine and none on the Mississippi.

State Council Decree 591, which took effect on 1 December last year, will help address the issue of a blanket ban that the old Decree 344 had imposed for the past decade, he said, though it has not specifically lifted the ban. Instead, Decree 591 stipulates that the Ministry of Transport, the main regulator for road and waterway transport, will work with three other government departments – the Ministry of Industry and Information, Ministry of Environmental Protection and State Administration of Work Safety – on a new list of banned substances.

An inter-departmental task force is already up and running, having had three meetings and two field visits, but opinions differ sharply and are currently difficult to reconcile, admitted Mr Chen. Plans to allow acrylonitrile, yellow phosphorus, DMS, l iquid chlorine and TDI to be shipped on the Yangtze via special licence have been discussed and further details need to be worked out to start a controlled trial, he said.

Balancing the interests of different stakeholders in the Yangtze is a big challenge for the central government. With major chemical manufacturers investing in Chongqing and other leading Yangtze port cities in China’s interior, it is a difficult task to both protect the main source of drinking water for some 400m people along the river while at the same time facilitating the rapid growth of the chemical industry.

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